Matthew Hayday

Prof. Matthew Hayday, Department of History, spoke to CBC Arts about the 50th anniversary of “Sesame Street,” the beloved American children’s TV show that “wound up shaping Canadian identity.”

Hayday explained that Sesame Street became a test case for Canadian content regulations created by the newly-created CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) in the early 1970s.

With the CRTC concerned about Sesame Street’s American themes, Canadian-made segments being being inserted into a Canadianized version three years after the show’s Canadian debut. The show would go on to introduce young Canadians to Indigenous communities and ways of life, as well as ideas about the Canadian national identity, including multiculturalism and bilingualism.

Hayday studies many aspects of post-war Canadian history, including nationalism and identity politics, and the history of bilingualism. In 2016, he published a paper on Sesame Street’s influence on young Canadians, entitled: “Brought To You by the Letters C,R,T, and C: Sesame Street and Canadian Nationalism.”