Get inspired by these 4 speeches celebrating diversity at the Canadian Screen Awards

Let this year's CSAs be a reminder: we're stronger because of our diversity. Take a look at some of the show's most empowering speeches.

If these highlights leave you wanting more, you've got it — watch the entire show on Facebook

A grinning Paul Sun-Hyung Lee channels his Kim's Convenience character while accepting the award for best actor in a comedy series at the Canadian Screen Awards. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Sunday night's Canadian Screen Awards broadcast is up on the CBC Arts Facebook page, the red-carpet pre-show included.

What's another three hours? You already spend most of your life on Facebook, right?

Don't say yes to that question. We like you too much.

In fact, we like you so much that we've hacked away all the usual padding that smothers any awards show — the endless commercials and movie clips and presenter banter — to leave just enough for a blog post. It'll take you 10 minutes, tops, to consume, and you'll even feel inspired by the time you reach the end of the page — something the sight of Howie Mandel in a Viking suit could sadly never do.

Inspiring, empowering — how else to describe this year's batch of acceptance speeches? Those were the moments that made the CSAs. What was notable, though, was how so many of them acknowledged the same point.

Several of the night's major winners spoke emotionally about diversity and how our film and television industry is striving to represent and reflect the many facets of the Canadian experience.

It was a little self-congratulating, sure — it's an awards show, after all. But laurels, including those of the CSA persuasion, are not for sitting on. Let this year's show be a reminder: we're stronger because of our diversity. And there's room for many more voices, still. 

Take a look at some of the show's most inspiring speeches. And if they leave you wanting more, you've got it. Like we said, every last second of the show is on Facebook.

Kim's Convenience star Paul Sun-Hyung Lee: "I'm living in a dream!"

The CBC star won the CSA for best comedic actor. From his speech:

"I have to say that I am an immigrant, and I am a Canadian. And in this weird sort of political time[,] the portrayal of an immigrant family on a national broadcaster doing what all families do, which is try to make a life for themselves through the laughter, through the tears, through the fights, through the love, is so much more important now than ever before. Because it normalizes us. And it shows other people that, you know what, we might have some cultural differences but deep down inside, when it comes to family, we are all the same — and that our strength has and been and always will be diversity in this country. And I've never been more proud to be a Canadian than right now."

"Anything can happen, anything is possible, so aim high and keep dreaming."

The Kim's Convenience star praised Canada's diversity in his Screen Awards acceptance speech. 2:10
Paul Sun-Hyung Lee describes the importance of Kim's Convenience in today's world, and the thrill of winning a Canadian Screen Award for playing the lead role. 4:43

This one's for 'the queer community, my community'

To quote her CSA speech, Natasha Negovanlis plays a "brooding, lesbian vampire" on Carmilla — but to fans, the web series goes beyond blood-sucking sensationalism. Negovanlis won this year's fan choice award, and at the podium, she spoke to how the series has connected with LGBTQ viewers.

"It has been an honour and a privilege to provide more positive onscreen representation for the queer community, for my community," said Negovanlis, who dedicated the win to the show's supporters. "This isn't for me. I think this is for all of my fans who feel like they don't belong or who feel like an outsider. I am very much still the little girl who used to get shoved into lockers, so this one's for all of you."

'This is for everybody out there like me'

They tried to play him off with smooth jazz — weirdly aggressive, and therefore not-at-all-smooth, jazz. But Adrian Holmes stuck it out. After winning the CSA for best actor on a TV drama, the star of 19-2 sent a message to his fellow artists.

"Thank you to the Academy for giving me a seat at the table," he said. "This is for everyone out there who, like me, has a dream and just wants an opportunity to be seen, and a platform from which they can represent and show the world, be a reflection of what this world really is, a window outside."

"Thank you, all. This is for everybody out there like me."

'There's diversity happening on this stage tonight'

The Earle Grey Award is among the CSAs' highest honours, and it recognizes an artist's lifetime achievement in television. Métis actress Tantoo Cardinal was this year's recipient. From her speech:

"I was a blank slate. Nothing big was intended with my birth. I wasn't asked what I was going to be when I grew up. No dreams were planted in my head. I moved from a rock to a pebble, one magic moment to the next, on the wings of kindness and humanitarianism and that push forward for a better life — freedom, acceptance, understanding, amidst the constant insistence of integrity, humility, truth."

"And from the people who raised me, I felt the breaking hearts of injustice and loving laughter of survival. They kept me moving forward in the hopes our stories would be told."

"And you know what? It looks like it's happening. There's diversity happening on this stage tonight, on the main stage. And we're included as Indigenous people. That's really exciting and it's heartening. I thank you for the honour of accepting this accolade."

Watch the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards, and get complete coverage of this year's show.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.