Suissa was a speaker at the "Giving
The Past A Future" conference, hosted by the McGill
Institute for the Study of Canada in Montreal from January
29-31. He spoke with a group of student reporters during a break
in the conference activities.
Sydney Suissa is the Director of Programming and Development
with History Television,
one of Canada's specialty television channels. His job involves
determining the schedules and programs that appear on History
Television and working with the producers of the various programs.
SNN: When was History Television launched?
Sydney Suissa: History Television was launched October
17, 1997, the same date as the 80th anniversary of the Russian
SNN: How do you select your historical content?
SS: Basically, it is Canadian content. We select material
that has populist appeal, blending movies with documentaries
to build a strong station with character.
SNN: Do you feel that there is a lack of interest in
SS: Not so much as a lack of interest, but a lack of
knowledge in the world. Yes, there is an interest, an interest
in good stories. Ideally, we would reach everybody, but older
males (24 - 54) are the group most interested in history, because
they're interested in their roots. History was made of males,
by males, for males.
SNN: How do you make your programs reach out to students
SS: Well... we don't - not specifically! We try to
make our programs as engaging and appealing as possible. We offer
certain programs for students and teachers, for example, "Cable
in the Classroom", study guides, etc.
SNN: Do you believe there is a mentality among some
Canadians which rejects history and treats the subject with an
attitude of indifference? People who believe that the past should
stay in the past, as opposed to giving it a future?
SS: Not so much as indifference, but many people find
the past to be painful, and don't want to dwell on it.
SNN: What do you strive to instill in Canadians?
SS: A general curiosity in history.
Reena Parhar is a student at John Oliver Secondary in British
Columbia, Saka Andic attends Burnaby Secondary School in British
Columbia and François Louis-Seize and Marc-André
Cloutier are students from École Le Ber in Quebec.