Falen Johnson and Leah Simone Bowen co-host the Secret Life of Canada, a history podcast about the country you know and the stories you don’t. (Evan Aagaard/CBC) The Secret Life of Canada is a podcast that takes an unconventional look at Canada’s history, and uncovers stories not told in our history books.
"[The podcast] was a reaction to Canada 150. During Canada 150, people were willing to think about Canada’s history in a different way, and willing to listen to alternate perspectives of history. It was really a time of reflection," said host Falen Johnson, who is Mohawk and Tuscarora from Six Nations.
She co-hosts the podcast alongside Leah Simone Bowen.
"We wanted to take that opportunity to subvert the celebration, and really make Canada look at itself and its history with all of its blemishes."
Johnson said, growing up, there were a lot of things missing from her Canadian history textbooks.
"I have a really specific memory of being in Grade 4 and … my substitute teacher was teaching our Native studies unit, and she stood at the front of the classroom and said to the entire room, ‘Did you know that before the white man came to Canada, all the Indians ran around naked?’" Johnson recalled.
"I remember being confused … and feeling ashamed. I remember looking around the room at some of the other Indigenous kids in the classroom … and they all had the same looks on their faces, this confusion and embarrassment."
After school, Johnson asked her dad if what she learned was true, and he said it wasn’t.
Since launching the podcast, Johnson said that educators have reached out to say how they’re now using the podcast as an educational resource.
"It was surprising to us that so many teachers were reaching out … and saying, ‘Thank you so much, I’m playing this episode in my classroom right now,’" said Johnson.
"We don’t consider ourselves professional educators by any stretch of imagination … but I’m an Indigenous voice … and if my voice can help support what they’re teaching, then I’m all for that." More from this episode
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