Nova Scotia

Premier says CBC must correct miniseries and apologize to Nova Scotians

Premier Stephen McNeil has joined local and federal politicians in asking the president of the CBC to apologize for a 'misleading and incomplete' episode of a docudrama chronicling the founding of Canada.

Public broadcaster should air an added episode marking Port-Royal's significance, says McNeil

In a news release, Premier Stephen McNeil said the founding of Canada can be traced back to 1605 in Port-Royal. He's urging the CBC to set the record straight in its miniseries. (CBC)

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is adding his name to a letter addressed to the president of the CBC saying the province was snubbed in the new miniseries Canada: The Story of Us.

The mayor of Annapolis Royal, N.S., Bill MacDonald, wrote the letter to the CBC's Hubert Lacroix, requesting an apology and a new episode after the series portrayed Quebec City as the site of the first permanent European settlement in 1608.

The trouble is that Samuel de Champlain helped establish a year-round habitation in Port-Royal, N.S., three years earlier in 1605. Today, Port-Royal is a national historic site close to the modern-day town of Annapolis Royal.

"Port-Royal was a place of first contact, forever marked by the welcoming of these Europeans in peace and friendship by Grand Chief Henri Membertou and the Mi'kmaq people," the letter reads.

"Episode one of the CBC miniseries effectively erases the collective early history of a whole province and its people — including the Mi'kmaq and the Acadians."

'It needs to be corrected'

Colin Fraser, the Liberal MP for the area, and Timothy Habinski, warden for the Municipality of the County of Annapolis, are also signatories.

In a press release Wednesday, McNeil said the omission overlooks the fundamental contributions of the Mi'kmaq and Acadians.

"Why are we, as a province or a region, willing to allow CBC to rewrite Canadian history?" McNeil told reporters Thursday. 

"Our ancestors were greeted in peace and friendship by the Mi'kmaq people. That should be celebrated."

Samuel de Champlain as depicted in 'Canada: This Story of Us'. (Bristow Global Media)

The politicians are worried because the miniseries is being offered to schools and is available to be streamed from the public broadcaster.

The letter calls on the CBC produces a further episode — a prequel — as soon as possible, to remedy the current circumstances."

"It's not too late for them [CBC] to say, you know, we made a mistake and we should correct it," McNeil told reporters Thursday. 

CBC says it will respond to letter

In the meantime, those who have signed the letter are calling on CBC to broadcast an apology to the people of Nova Scotia "for ignoring 412 years of our shared history."

Emma Bédard, a CBC spokesperson, said in an email the corporation will respond to the letter as it does with all correspondence. 

She noted the miniseries "is not a definitive or linear history of Canada."

"The series took a biographical approach, and with only 50 stories to tell over 10 episodes, difficult decisions had to be made as to which ones to include in the series," she said.

The producers of the series, Bristow Global Media, previously said Port-Royal came up many times during research for the show, but they decided to define permanence as a continuous, year-round population and settled on Champlain's 1608 settlement in what is now Quebec.

They noted the previous attempt at permanent settlement in Port-Royal was cut short in 1607.