Growing up in predominantly white Moncton, Hillary LeBlanc had a racial awakening of sorts when she moved to Toronto five years ago and started coming in regular contact with more Black people like herself.
She’s since entered the world of journalism and media and said she’s made it her “mission to share the stories of Black Maritimers across the country.”
“What started with podcasting and telling my own story has opened so many doors and opportunities,” she said recently in an interview with the Halifax Examiner.
In her day job, LeBlanc works from home as the communications and digital media lead for the Canadian Association of Community Health Centres. She creates blogs, newsletters, podcasts, and handles the organization’s social media.
In February, LeBlanc and Clinton Davis spoke with the Examiner about Blacklantic, which they co-founded. Blacklantic exists both as a “race-specific podcast,” and also as a website where LeBlanc, Davis, and others write and publish blogs where they share their own personal Black experiences.
Available on all major podcast platforms, Blacklantic also streams through the CHMA radio station out of Sackville, New Brunswick. Through Blacklantic and as former co-hosts of the Black In The Maritimes podcast, LeBlanc said she and Davis developed a relationship with CBC and have taken part in discussion panels on Black-related subjects such as Black History Month and Emancipation Day.
As a writer, LeBlanc also does freelance work for ByBlacks.com, an award-winning Black Canadian online magazine that profiles Black Canadian entrepreneurs, businesses, history, and artists.
“I’ve been able to provide for them profiles of New Brunswick entrepreneurs, change makers and tell the realities of being Black in New Brunswick to an Ontario readership that may not know how being Black differs province to province,” said LeBlanc.
LeBlanc is also a YouTuber and part-time model. She recently hosted a three-night red carpet event for the Canadian International Fashion Film Festival in Toronto which she called “a dream come true,” and bridged the gap between her fashion interests and her journalism and media aspirations.
LeBlanc said she also does work to support the Give Back Collective, a fashion charity where designers donate clothes to be sold and the proceeds go towards supporting four specific charitable partners.
From podcasting to CBC broadcasting
Blacklantic recently began its second season of podcasts.
Through Blacklantic and her relationship with CBC, LeBlanc recently hosted a seven-part series of interviews with Black business owners in New Brunswick on CBC’s Information Morning in New Brunswick.
“When the Black Business Initiative expanded to all East Coast provinces, it allowed the perfect segue into sharing Black entrepreneur stories within New Brunswick to the predominately white Greater Moncton area listenership,” she said.
“Without Blacklantic I don’t think I would have as strong of a partnership with Information Morning as I do, but it’s definitely because they know I work in communications, and I want to be in the journalistic world that they sought me out more specifically.”
LeBlanc said she approached the producers of Information Morning about the idea a while back and that it took them outside of their regular business hours to be able to eventually pull it off. Some of the audio clips she said she’s been holding onto since the beginning of 2022.
Though she said she only learned about a lot of the history of migration of Black people to Saint John, New Brunswick through doing Blacklantic, LeBlanc said she noticed more Black people moving to Moncton before she moved away five years ago. She said this was likely attributable to l’Universite du Moncton, which she said is about 40% international students.
“Now when I go back, I do sense that there are more immigrants that aren’t just there for the university, they’re there to call Moncton their home.”
“We’ve got a restaurateur [as guest on Information Morning] who the reason that they opened the restaurant is because they missed food from home,” she said. “The first episode that came out about United Colours of Fashion, Christine and Rufina missed their culture, their Nigerian Culture, and they wanted to showcase it on a stage in Saint John and then decided they weren’t going to leave out any of the other cultures that made up Saint John’s diversity.”
“And so it’s a lot of Black people who seem to be missing pieces of home, who are proud of it, and want to share it with the white cultures and just have a better sense of education and understanding.”
LeBlanc said that her opportunities with Blacklantic, ByBlacks, and CBC have allowed her to also share her writing with the Regroupement Féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick, the French School district of New Brunswick, and also given her “the distinct honour” of assisting to build the Black histories curriculum for the Anglophone New Brunswick School District.
“What is important to me about all of the various ways I’m sharing the stories of Black East Coasters and helping educate the New Brunswick population about Blackness is ensuring that it is understood that no Black experience is the same,” said LeBlanc.
“No Black person is a monolith, none of us have the same backgrounds, lives, experiences, or reactions. We all have faced racism, systemic or not but we all also experience joy. I want to share the stories of Black innovators, creators, and community leaders to prove we, as a group of people, are more than slave stories and trauma mining.”
It seems odd to me that only Matthew reports Black stories. Equally odd that I never see his byline on non-Black stories. Why does it happen?
I hope I have the facts wrong.
Hi Robert. Matthew was hired to cover stories from the Black community in Nova Scotia. Here’s his bio: “Matthew Byard writes news, profiles, and stories of the Black Nova Scotia community. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.”
Matthew certainly could cover other stories, but he’s quite busy now.
And our other reporters, myself included, have covered stories from the Black community, too.
Thank you for introducing Hillary LeBlanc and her podcast BlackLantic. I look forward to listening & learning.