Listening & Learning About Reconciliation: A Podcast Club

As one commitment to ongoing allyship, four friends started a podcast club to learn more about reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. Read reflections about some of their key takeaways and learn tips and tricks for starting your own podcast club.
Indigenous podcasts

We’re four non-Indigenous friends: Brittany, Kaleigh, Steph, and Ellie. We’ve all worked as Program Directors or Assistant Program Directors for Adventure Canada and have been privileged to travel extensively through Indigenous homelands around the world.

We wanted to learn more about modern-day Indigenous issues in Canada and how we as settlers can further the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action by educating ourselves about our country’s past and present.

So, we started a podcast club.

Why podcasts instead of, say, a more traditional book club? We found short podcast episodes easy to listen to and learn from on the go, whether we were walking our dogs, cooking a meal, or out for a run. In other words, podcasts made it easy to incorporate some thoughtful learning into our everyday routines.

The first series we chose was Telling Our Twisted Histories, a CBC podcast hosted by Kaniehti:io Horn “to decolonize our minds—one word, one concept, one story at a time.” Each episode delves into a different topic, with the input of many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit voices from across what are now commonly called the provinces of Québec, Labrador, and New Brunswick.

What did we learn?

“When I listened to the Savage episode, at first I thought to myself, “Does anyone ever really use this word anymore?” But as I was listening, I realized it’s still widely used today. It made me reflect upon how, when I’ve sang or listened to the classic Stan Rogers Northwest Passage song, it includes the line about a land so wild and savage. That really made me stop and think about how we can carry on stereotypes without even consciously realizing it.” – Brittany

“One episode that really struck me was Bannock. I’ve always understood this food item to be a cultural staple for many Indigenous people. However, I had never considered that its ingredients—flour, baking powder, salt, and water—had to be obtained from colonial trading posts. What a difficult juxtaposition it must be to connect with one's culture by physically consuming a food centred around a history of colonial oppression. In this I’m reminded once more of the complex layers of our history, and committed even further in my journey towards decolonization.” – Kaleigh

“The most powerful moments for me were when an interviewee would say, “That word does not exist in Indigenous languages." This came up in the episodes Indian Time and Obey. Listening to the reflections on such words gave me a deeper understanding of the frustrations Indigenous people have been dealing with for so long. How many of our words make absolutely no sense in the context of their cultures? It reminded me of the importance of slowing down as we work to decolonize. It drove home the idea this podcast highlights: we can't gloss over the things that feel small, like a single word. That could be the place where the misunderstandings begin.” – Steph

“The Reconciliation episode, which is the last in the series, really struck a chord with me. So many of the interviewees shared the sentiment that acts of reconciliation often feel performative and exhausting. The host of the show, Kaniehti:io Horn, shared her view that to call it reconciliation would imply that Canada at one point actually had a good relationship with Indigenous peoples, but it’s since gone sour and now needs repair. Based on what I presently know, I’d argue this was probably never the case. Rather, the onus is really only on us, the settlers, to make amends and reparations.” – Ellie

Want to start your own podcast club?

Starting your own podcast club with a group of like-minded friends or colleagues is easy!

  • Invite a few folks to join you. (We found keeping it to a small, four-person group was really cozy, but you could always cast a wider net.)
  • Commit to a regular date and time. (We opted for 40-minute chats every other week.)
  • Choose a podcast series that interests your group and centres Indigenous voices. (We've listed some suggestions below.)
  • Decide how many episodes will be assigned at each meeting. (We listened to two twenty-minute episodes for each club meeting.)
  • Listen, learn, share, laugh, cry, encourage, and hold each other accountable. (We certainly did!)
  • Repeat.

Podcast Club Guiding Questions

You might want to use some guiding questions to get the conversation rolling, especially for your first few podcast club meetings. While listening to Telling Our Twisted Histories, here are some of the questions we asked each other:

  • How did this week’s episodes make you feel?
  • When you first saw the title of the episode, what did you think it was going to be about? Were your expectations different than the episode’s actual content?
  • How comfortable are you with the podcast’s format of interviewing many different voices? Do you think this helps contribute to the goal of decolonizing these words?
  • What did you think of the music in this episode?
  • Which piece of wisdom about this word really hit home for you?

Reconciliation-Themed Podcast Recommendations

There are many podcasts created by Indigenous storytellers available today. Here’s a list of just a few we love so far:

About the Author

Ellie Clin

Ellie Clin

Program Director

Ellie Clin is an environmental educator by training and an adventurer at heart, having explored all seven continents and both polar regions. She's also a writer, scuba diver, sailor, general professional vagabond, and foodie. As Program Director for Adventure Canada, she loves planning the on-board education program to help guests learn as much as they can about the regions we travel to. Her travel and memoir writing has been featured in the Globe & Mail, Atlas Obscura, and Explore Magazine online, as well as Adventure Canada's own Mindful Explorer platform.