Anne-Marie Mediwake & Dwight Drummond
Written by: Samuel Getachew
In 2011, CBC News Toronto went through a major overhaul. For the network, the public broadcaster wanted to capture programming “that looked, felt and captured the essence of Toronto and all its richness and diversity.” When looking for potential hosts for its early evening news programming, the network searched for and finally chose two of the best journalists in the industry. For CBC, this was a catch-up to the multicultural reality that has taken place in the population over the years.
In Toronto, a city whose motto is, “Diversity Our Strength”, the two chosen were, for the most part, a daring change and an inspiring gesture to many aspiring journalists who may want to emulate such a great public career. The journalists picked - Dwight Drummond, a Canadian of Jamaican background and Anne-Marie Mediwake, of Sri Lankan and Scottish heritage - were young, articulate and ambitious. In their diversity, they both reflect the rainbow coalition that is rarely witnessed in mainstream media in Canada. Both are veterans of the business, having between them served in all the major news outlets in Toronto, including CTV and Global.
Anne-Marie Midiwake has covered noted Canadian milestones including former NDP Leader Jack Layton’s state funeral, the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton from London and their Canadian tour. The young journalist has also interviewed leading Canadian leaders such as one time Canada United Nations ambassador, Stephen Lewis.
In 2004, the 36 year old travelled to her native Sri Lanka to help produce a documentary titled, ‘Sri Lanka A Journey Home’. She has covered the Tsunami stories as well as interviewed leading personalities inside the South Asian nation. The mother of triplets has also opened up motherhood and the role of women in society. In reflection to her journalism career, Midiwake finds her “natural curiosity and passion for storytelling is rooted in her Scottish-Sri Lankan ancestry.” She is conscious of the diversity that is beginning to be captured by CBC and her role in its evolution. “I am proud of the fact that Dwight and I culturally reflect all of Canada, in its full diversity. CBC is Canada to me. I find it inspiring to see images of Barbara Frum in the atrium, Knowlton Nash’s glasses in the museum and Mr. Dressup’s Treehouse off the Wellington entrance. You can’t get much more Canadian than that.” For someone who lives by the words “do justly, love mercy, walk humbly,” she knows the enormous role she is playing to inspire young people who may want to follow in her footsteps.
To them she says, “Work hard. Take every opportunity, look for new ones, ask for new ones and find a mentor. Do not be afraid to do every task given to the best of your ability, nothing is above doing your best. If you can be trusted with little you will be trusted with much.” Dwight Drummond’s journey is similar to that of his co-host. The proud Jamaican Canadian is a Ryerson University graduate and started his journalism career in earnest. He was partly inspired by the few Black faces he saw in what was a very exclusive journalism career, including Toronto Star’s columnist, Royson James. The popular personality moved to Toronto in 1976 and grew up in the Jane and Finch area and worked for Citytv for more than 20 years before moving to CBC. He has covered many leading stories from international destinations in the Caribbean as well as numerous stories in Toronto.
He has earned the Men of Excellence Award, the Distinguished Men of Honour Award and the African Canadian Achievement Award for excellence in media. The avid volunteer has served as an MC to many notable events, including the 2012 soiree honouring Jamaica’s current Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Portia Simpson-Miller, at the Jamaican Canadian Association on her first state visit to Canada. For the 44 year old, CBC Toronto is literally a “reaction from the public” in a city that is diverse and where “our circle of friends and now more often family, really reflects the diversity that is Toronto and Canada.” To young people he advises, “Don’t fit into other people stereotypes of whom or what you should be because of the colour of your skin.” He continues, “A student told me he hides his books from friends because loving to read just isn’t cool in his neighbourhood. I told him knowledge is the foundation that everything is built upon; he needs to share his books with his friends.”
Drummond’s favourite quote is by Marcus Garvey, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Luckily for Midiwake and Drummond, they are both fulfilling the wisdom of these words.