Falen Johnson: The Future is Indigenous
Falen Johnson, who is Mohawk and Tuscarora from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory in southern Ontario, is a storyteller to pay attention to. In fact, Falen was was named one of the 20 people to watch in 2020 by McLean's Magazine. Falen, a playwright by trade, has found herself working and excelling in the world of broadcasting and making a name for herself through her audio work. You may be familiar with Falen's voice and work as she is the co-host of CBC Podcasts’ The Secret Life of Canada with Leah Simone Bowen, and will be guest-hosting CBC Radio’s UNRESERVED for the 2020/21 season. Her writing is just as powerful as her hosting. In 2020 Falen wrote a piece for Myseum of Toronto titled PERSPECTIVE FROM THE CITY: FALEN JOHNSON, and we highly recommend giving it a read. Although podcasting has become a significant component of her career, Falen (who graduated from George Brown Theatre School in Toronto) still works as a playwright. Her plays include: Salt Baby, Two Indians, and Ipperwash - all of which explore the realities of being Indigenous in Canada, Indigenous identity, and navigating colonial spaces as an Indigenous person and woman. Currently, she is working with Toronto's Soulpepper Theatre on a play about the life of residential school survivor and artist Shirley Horn.
In their conversation, Shayla and Falen discuss the importance of Indigenous storytelling and the necessity for Indigenous people to be in control of their own narratives. Falen's words reaffirm the inherent storyteller role that is carried in our bloodlines: "What so many of us do is storytelling, and that is something that is intrinsic to who we are as Indigenous people and that belongs to us. That belongs to us. That is ours, and it doesn't matter - you don't have to be great at spelling, you don't have to be great at grammar. You have story, and that story is inside you, and however you want to tell that story, you tell that story. Our stories are so interesting. We have the best stories. Think about the people in your family - we tell the best stories. That's a part of who we are." In an interview with CBC, Falen further expounded on her storytelling roots and how coming from Six Nations influences her storytelling: "Six Nations has a lot of fantastic artists and storytellers; people like Robbie Robertson, Shelley Niro, Zoey Hopkins, Elizabeth Doxtater, Pauline Johnson, Santee Smith, Lacey Hill, Bear and Tim from Tribe Called Red. I could go on and on. I'm really proud of coming from a place with such a rich culture and history. A place that keeps fostering so much amazing talent. I love learning more about my community and my history and while I don't have my language I do want to learn. I have been slowly picking up bits and pieces and I hope I can add more words to my vocabulary so I can deepen that connection."
Join us as we chat with Falen and hear about her work, her journey as a storyteller, and her visions for the future.
listen to Falen on Unreserved
listen to Falen on The Secret Life of Canada