Colour Code co-host Denise Balkissoon Colour Code co-host Hannah Sung

Colour Code

A podcast about race in Canada

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Episode 11 Your Turn

In this, our last episode, we are featuring questions, comments and critiques from our listeners. It's a look back at the series while considering how we can all move forward with the conversation — how to approach and cope with discussions of race and identity at home, at school and with friends and family.

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Episode 10 Surface Tension

Is anyone responsible for a hate crime beyond the person who committed it? Hannah and Denise visit Sutton, Ont., where a racially-motivated act 10 years ago resulted in a tragedy that changed lives forever.

Warning: This episode contains racist language

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Guest episode The Cajun Reconnection

We’re taking a break this week to share an episode of Gravy, a podcast by our friends at the Southern Foodways Alliance. The Cajun Reconnection explores the culinary and cultural connections between the Cajuns of Louisiana and the Acadians of eastern Canada.

Get more Gravy here. Colour Code will return next week.

Episode 9 Race and Real Estate

The price of home ownership has skyrocketed in Vancouver, and many think foreign buyers – especially those from China – are a big reason why. Hannah visits the west coast city to learn the history of race and space in B.C. and speaks with Vancouverites, including an urban planning academic and a real estate agent.

We talk to:
  • Henry Yu, a history professor at the University of British Columbia
  • Melissa Wu, realtor with Keller Williams Black Diamond Realty
  • Andy Yan, director of The City Program at Simon Fraser University
  • Claudia Kwan, a real estate reporter in Vancouver
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Episode 8 Eggshells

Coined by educator Robin DiAngelo, the term “white fragility” refers to the emotional, defensive reaction some white people have to discussions of race. To explore the concept, Hannah and Denise revisit a recent conversation between Denise and a radio host that got more than a little bit uncomfortable.

We talk to:
  • Robin DiAngelo
  • Zameer Karim, former producer, and Ian Power, former host, CKNW
  • Larry Gifford, program director, CKNW
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Episode 7 The Only One

Canada may be a multicultural country, but there are still many places with very few people of colour. As city kids, Denise and Hannah have always wondered: Is it lonely to be the only racialized person, or family, in a small town?

We talk to:
  • Musician Fritz Helder, who grew up in Whitehorse, Yukon
  • Ann Hui, the Globe's national food reporter
  • William Choy, mayor of Stony Plain, Alta. and owner of Bing's #1 Restaurant in Stony Plain
  • Peter Li and Linda Xie, owners of Diana Restaurant in Drumheller, Alta.
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  • Chop Suey Nation, Ann's cross-country story about the immigrant history, and vibrant present, of Chinese-Canadian food

Episode 6 2Legit

This episode explores the concept of legitimacy in talking about race in Canada, from what we consider shared knowledge to the very words we use. What histories do we all know and accept to be true? What vocabulary do we consider acceptable and accessible?

We talk to:
  • Sylvia D. Hamilton, a filmmaker and professor at University of Kings College in Halifax
  • Naila Keleta-Mae, a professor at the University of Waterloo and Globe op-ed contributor
  • Celeste Yim, a comedian and student at the University of Toronto
Suggested reading:
  • Naila’s column from last summer on Black Lives Matter: It’s dramatic, unsettling and inconvenient. That’s the point
  • Robin DiAngelo’s essay on White Fragility, mentioned in this episode
  • Denise's column on why it's hard to say “white” — and why it's important that we do

Episode 5 First Comes Love

The number of mixed race relationships is growing in Canada. How do families negotiate race in the most intimate setting of all — at home, with the ones you love?

We talk to:
  • Globe reporter Sherrill Sutherland, who is biracial herself
  • Paul and Victoria Martin, a Black man and Chinese woman raising their family in Markham, Ont.
  • Globe reporter Zosia Bielski, who covers relationships
  • University of Toronto Scarborough professor Minelle Mahtani, author of Mixed Race Amnesia: Resisting the Romanticization of Multiraciality in Canada
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Episode 4 The Angel Complex

On this episode, we discuss a core concept of Canadian identity – comparing ourselves to the United States. Race relations in our neighbouring country are often dramatic and sometimes violent. But does that mean our actual level of racism is lower?

We talk to:
  • Guests at a premiere of a Heritage Minute about civil rights hero Viola Desmond
  • Mohammed Hashim, labour activist and organizer of the online Muslim community Dawanet
  • Akio Maroon, human rights advocate and chair of Maggie’s Sex Work Action Project
  • Denise’s brothers, Ian and Tony, Canadian expats in the U.S.
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Episode 3 Pop, Power, Privilege

This episode features an intimate, one-on-one conversation with British-Sri Lankan musician and pop provocateur M.I.A. From living through war as a child to performing at the Grammys and the Super Bowl as an adult, M.I.A.’s experiences transcend many identities at once.

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Episode 2 The Most Visible Minority

In this conversation-packed episode, we ask two Canadian leaders, one in the arts and one in politics, to share thoughts on the experience of being a visible minority in a high-profile position.

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Episode 1 Race Card

On this, the first episode of Colour Code, we try to figure out Indian Status: who gets it, what it means, where it came from and how it resonates in Canada and indigenous communities today.

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  • Embarrassed? Uncomfortable? Defensive? Here’s Denise on why you should get over it and start talking about race
  • If you’re brand new to the idea of Indian Status (we were), here’s a handy guide by Métis writer Chelsea Vowel, whose new book, Indigenous Writes, is out now.
  • And if you’d like to know more about the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada, here’s some coverage The Globe and Mail has done so far.

Podcast teaser Introducing Colour Code

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s new podcast series about race in Canada. For hosts Denise Balkissoon and Hannah Sung, it’s first things first: What is race? And why do we need this conversation right now?

About Colour Code

If there’s one thing Canadians avoid, it’s talking about race. This podcast is here to change that. Join hosts Denise Balkissoon and Hannah Sung for a new conversation on race in Canada. We won’t have all the answers but we do ask bold questions.

Denise Balkissoon is a columnist and editor for The Globe’s Life section. Hannah Sung is a video producer at The Globe.

Join the conversation on Twitter #ColourCode

Email the show at

Show theme song by Bonjay

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