The documentary Oscar Peterson: Black + White won four Canadian Screen Awards this week, but director Barry Avrich has since apologized after he drew criticism over a comment he made in his acceptance speech.

The film won the prize for best biography or arts documentary program or series. It also earned Avrich the award for best direction, documentary program.

“There are so many Black stories in Canada that need to be told. It doesn’t matter who tells them, we just need to tell them,” Avrich said in his acceptance speech Monday night.

That remark prompted several organizations to respond publicly, saying that Avrich was undermining the importance of giving opportunities to Black filmmakers and storytellers.

“I am truly sorry I misspoke, causing my words to be misinterpreted as anything but support for Black creatives telling their stories,” Avrich said in a statement to CBC News on Thursday.

“Of course it matters who tells stories; intentionality, lived experience, an anti-oppression stance matter. I am committed to continuing to be a strong supporter of redressing the imbalance that has historically existed and continues to be a challenge for Black and other traditionally underrepresented creators.”

The Black Screen Office was among Avrich’s critics, stating that it “vehemently disagrees” with the director’s remark.

“The BSO congratulates Barry Avrich for his CSA win, but we are deeply disturbed that he would use this as a platform to make such a self-serving point in his acceptance speech,” Jennifer Holness, chair of the BSO’s board of directors, said in a statement. “Mr. Avrich, I’d like to emphatically let you know that it does matter. Until recently, we Black filmmakers have faced massive systemic and structural bias that allowed very few of us to make work, never mind to obtain the access and craftsmanship you have gotten over your career. Opportunities are finally opening up for us to tell our stories, and we must be given the support and funding to do this work.”