Charmaine de Silva’s contributions to the media, cultural and social landscapes of Vancouver receive the recognition they deserve.
As the News Director of CityNews Vancouver and Calgary, Charmaine is helping two of Canada’s most influential multi-platform newsrooms raise the bar when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion.
“When I was a small child my family came to Canada from Sri Lanka, and like a lot of immigrants, the world I knew was not reflected in what I saw around me,” Charmaine recalls. “I noticed that on TV news, there were very few people who looked like me, and if you go back in time, even as recently as five years ago, you’ll notice that coverage of minority and marginalized communities tended to be negative. Now, we are elevating those voices and building relationships and trust with communities that weren’t included in conversations before. Now, we are making sure that everyone in our news organization has received diversity, equity and inclusion training through a journalism lens. You put all of that together, and the result is really powerful. That’s the most rewarding and important part of what we do at CityNews.”
A career fuelled by passion
Charmaine started her career in Kelowna and went on to work in some of Canada’s best newsrooms honing her skills as a reporter, news anchor, and talk show host. Best known for highlighting gaps in B.C.’s family justice system in a ground-breaking podcast and news series, Charmaine won three Radio Television Digital News Association awards and two Regional Edward R. Murrow prizes. She joined Rogers Sports & Media in 2018 as News Director for NEWS 1130 (now CityNews 1130) radio and became responsible for CityNews across all platforms in Vancouver in 2020.
“This incredible five-year journey I’ve had with Rogers has really fuelled my passion for telling stories that reflect Vancouver, and for building a newsroom that approaches local news in a way that lifts communities up,” Charmaine says.
Blazing a trail for others to follow
Charmaine also derives great satisfaction from mentoring the next generation of Canadian journalists. “My advice is to always say ‘yes’ to opportunities for experience. It’s one thing to be in a classroom, but actually getting to research, report and write stories is the best way to hone your craft. As I discovered in Kelowna, there is a lot of opportunity outside major markets like Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary. In smaller markets you can get a full-time job right out of school, and then you’re practicing and working on your craft every single day.”
Beyond the newsroom, Charmaine is a proud member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. She served as Vancouver Pride Society Board Co-Chair from 2016 to 2020, and now she’s part of a team bringing Canada Pride to Vancouver in 2024. “Down the line, it’s not going to be unusual to have a queer woman of colour in an influential media position,” she says. “Down the line, thinking about how we approach storytelling, and how it might harm or benefit different groups, will be the rule, not the exception. While I’m proud and honored to be named to the Power 50 list, this recognition isn’t just about me. It’s a real reflection of our entire organization and our values at CityNews and at Rogers.”