The Sunday Magazine

Memories and prophecies from frequent guests of The Sunday Edition

What was the world like when The Sunday Edition began 20 years ago? What will it look like in the next 20 years? To answer these questions and take stock of where we are now, Michael Enright calls on friends who have been frequent guests on the program over the past two decades — Cindy Blackstock, Paul Rogers, Adam Gopnik, Margaret Atwood and Robert Harris.

The return of Cindy Blackstock, Paul Rogers, Adam Gopnik, Margaret Atwood and Robert Harris

A sign advertising a book titled "How Will We Survive On Earth?" is seen on an underground station platform on March 18, 2020 in London, England. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

As he hosts The Sunday Edition for the last time, Michael Enright looks back to what the world was like when the program began in 2000, looks ahead to the next 20 years — and takes stock of where we are now.

To do so, he called on friends who have been frequent guests on the program over the past two decades — Cindy Blackstock, Paul Rogers, Adam Gopnik, Margaret Atwood and Robert Harris. 

Cindy Blackstock

Cindy Blackstock is the Executive Director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The last 20 years have seen both significant progress and heartbreaking blows to the Indigenous rights movement in Canada. During that time, The Sunday Edition has often turned to Cindy Blackstock for her insights on issues affecting Indigenous people in Canada.

She is a professor in the School of Social Work at McGill University, a member of the Gitxsan First Nation, and the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.

Enright spoke with Blackstock about Canada's slow progress in fighting institutional racism against Indigenous peoples in Canada.

"We have a little bit of an identity problem in that people have developed this concept of Canada as being nice and friendly and multicultural," explained Blackstock. "And while that's generally true, it doesn't mean that at the same time, we don't have systemic racism being perpetrated by the Canadian state."

Blackstock says that both Indigenous and settler Canadians need to work harder in the coming years to address the inequities that have stained this country since Confederation.

"My view is that in order to keep any country on the right track of respecting human dignity, values and good governance, citizens have to ask the hard questions and embrace these truths so that we can ensure that everybody in society is treated fairly," she said. "But we're not there yet."

Paul Rogers

Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford and Global Security Consultant to Oxford Research Group. (Submitted by Paul Rogers)

When we find ourselves in times of trouble — as we so often have over the last twenty years — The Sunday Edition's first call has often been to Paul Rogers.

He is a professor of peace studies at Bradford University in the U.K. When the world changed overnight, he helped us make sense of where to go next.

He has been one of the most popular guests on the program. Listeners often write in to ask, "When are you going to have Paul Rogers back?"

He spoke with Enright about how the world order has changed over the last 20 years, and what he predicts the major challenges will be in the next 20.

Adam Gopnik

Adam Gopnik is a staff writer at The New Yorker and has been contributing to magazine since 1986. (Submitted by Adam Gopnik)

The United States is in the midst of life-changing, society-changing chaos, with unknowable features and an unknowable end.

Canadian-born critic and essayist Adam Gopnik has often appeared on the program to offer his insights on the state of democracy in the U.S.

He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine since 1986. His most recent book is A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism.

He shared his views on the state of U.S. politics, and how the pandemic has changed our lives.

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is an award-winning Canadian author. (Liam Sharp)

In 2000, the year Michael Enright started hosting The Sunday Edition, Margaret Atwood won her first Booker prize for The Blind Assassin.

She was already one of this country's most accomplished writers, and in the intervening 20 years, she has gone on to ever greater international acclaim.

In 2019, she won the Booker Prize once again, this time for The Testaments, a sequel to her best-selling 1985 novel, The Handmaid's Tale

In her final interview with Enright in his role as host of The Sunday Edition, Atwood offered a prescription for our post-pandemic world.

"We'll come out of the COVID and say, 'Oh, it's back to normal.' But we can't go back to that normal and expect to survive into the next millennium," she said.

Robert Harris

Robert Harris is a musicologist and broadcaster. (CBC)

One of the most popular features on The Sunday Edition has been the series of appearances by "our man about music," Robert Harris. 

In particular, his series "20 Pieces of Music That Changed the World" elicited an extraordinary response.

Harris is the former head of CBC Radio's Variety department. He was also the host of the much-loved CBC Radio 2 program, I Hear Music.

He and Enright looked back over two decades of talking about and listening to music together.

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