Introducing The Secret Life of Canada

A podcast that looks at all the people, places and events regularly left out of Canadian history. Hosted and written by Leah-Simone Bowen and Falen Johnson, produced by Katie Jensen. Presented by Passport 2017.

Back in April, I started thinking about Canadian media diversity and equitable journalism education. I asked this question on Twitter:

The response was overwhelming—120 people joined a waitlist for a workshop series that didn’t exist yet. I decided to hold a series of PWYC workshops over the summer that would teach artists, racialized people, and people of low-income how to make their own podcasts.

Photo by Ashley Sherwood, the workshop participant behind GRLCHILL (with her best bud Emery Pastachak)

During each workshop, there were show concepts that blew me away with their ingenuity, creativity, and humour. You couldn’t pay 25 white guys with 25 pizzas to come up with comparable ideas in a blue sky meeting.

I created a secret Facebook group so I could continue to share resources as the summer went on. But a few podcasts really stuck with me, and one in particular was The Secret Life of Canada by Leah-Simone Bowen and Falen Johnson. So when Passport 2017 editor Matthew McKinnon of St. Joseph Media approached me about doing a #Canada150 themed podcast, I knew exactly what to tell him.

Today, we’re launching episode 1 of The Secret Life of Canada. It’s all about the hidden history of Banff National Park.

First, we hit the streets of Toronto to hear what people think about Canada’s jewel…

And then we recorded episode one!

How did Banff come to be? A look back at how Indigenous people were kicked off their land — and then how the national park was built by the forced labour of interned Ukrainian-Canadians. Skiing at Lake Louise will never feel the same again.

Full show notes available on Passport 2017.

Listen or subscribe on iTunes

Listen on Soundcloud

Twitter: @secretlifeofcad and Facebook


To celebrate the launch of our podcast today, here’s a playlist of history, race, and culture podcasts to play on the road, at the lake, or lying on the couch this Labour Day weekend.

Campus — “This is what happens when you steal people’s land”

How an Indigenous homeless crack addict turned his life around to becoming one of the most decorated PhD students in Canada. In part 1 of a special two-part story, Jesse Thistle details his upbringing in a broken family, a heavy addiction to crack cocaine, and a decade living on the streets.

Cited — Who Killed Canadian History?

From the Hertiage Minutes/Drake mashup, to Harper’s grand historical narrative; we debate Canadian history and how it ought to be taught.

Stuff You Missed In History Class — Mary Ann Shadd Cary

She was a black Canadian-American who became the first woman in North America to publish and edit a newspaper. She advocated against slavery, for better lives for free black people, and for women’s rights.

Today in Canadian History — June 30: The Chinese Exclusion Act, Black Canadians Granted The Right To Vote

The Chinese Immigration Act was passed on this day back in 1923. To learn more we spoke with Britt Braaten, the Curator and Manager of the Multicultural History Society of Ontario.

Colour Code — Surface Tension

Is anyone responsible for a hate crime beyond the person who committed it? Hannah and Denise visit Sutton, Ont., where a racially-motivated act 10 years ago resulted in a tragedy that changed lives forever.

Out in the Open — How To Change Police

In the wake of civilian shootings and harassment claims on the force, many are calling on law enforcement to change. Out in the Open explores how police are changing, how some think they should, and how the job changes the human wearing the uniform.


In this episode of Red Man Laughing we bring you to Anishinaabe Wild Rice harvester, James Whetung’s Manoomin Camp to hear about his commitment to ricing, his inherent right to do so and we investigate the brewing conflict between Indigenous rights and cottage country.

If you enjoyed this, be sure to subscribe on iTunes and #passiton.