Full Episode

Rewriting History

From John A. MacDonald to residential schools, we're at a time of reckoning over what to do with people, objects and facts of history that are at once significant... but also troubled. This week, Piya explores collective and personal takes on the question: How far should we go to rewrite history?
St. Michael's Indian Residential School entrance, with two students on the driveway, in Alert Bay, B.C., is shown in a 1970 handout photo. In February 2015, church leaders, First Nations (including representatives of Assembly of First Nations), politicians and former students attended a healing/cleansing ceremony hosted by the 'Namgis First Nation to mark the demolition of the closed school's building. (Library and Archives Canada/Canadian Press)
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From John A. MacDonald to residential schools, we're at a time of reckoning over what to do with people, objects and facts of history that are at once significant... but also troubled. This week, Piya explores collective and personal takes on the question: How far should we go to rewrite history?

Here are the stories from this week's episode...

How a teen's apparent flashback of childhood abuse set off a debate over repressed memory

At 17-years-old, Nicole Kluemper seemed to remember sexual abuse that she'd described to a psychiatrist a decade earlier. And then a false memory expert claimed it never happened. Nicole walks Piya through her story -- which has become a landmark case in the debate over repressed memory -- and the difficulty of having others write and rewrite your personal history.

Should we demolish or preserve remaining residential school buildings?

Approximately 17 residential school buildings remain standing across Canada. Given the atrocities that happened within their walls, should we tear them down or keep them as markers of the past? Indigenous artist Carey Newman believes it should be left to each individual community to decide, but he also argues objects matter in remembering history.

Rewriting a family's history obscured by anti-Semitism

​Writer Alison Pick was raised Anglican, but she came to find out her family history wasn't what she had been led to believe. Alison explains how she discovered she's really Jewish and why her ancestors concealed the fact after fleeing to Canada from Czechoslovakia on the eve of the Holocaust.

Is erasing Lord Jeffrey Amherst's name a way to expose hidden history?

Once-celebrated British general Lord Jeffrey Amherst is at the centre of debates across North America over letters he wrote in the 1700s promoting biological warfare against Indigenous people. Keptin John Joe Sark of the Mi'kmaq Grand Council on PEI tells Piya why he wants his name erased from the island's historic site, Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst.

'I didn't tell anybody': Why a respected social worker hid her criminal past

In the 1970s, undercover cops busted Frances Cappe for having an ounce of pot. She was left with a criminal record but desperately wanted to move on and rewrite this part of her personal history. And that's exactly what she had been able to until 2004, when a policy change at her work place required her to fill out a criminal record check.

Prolific Wikipedia editor explains how our framing of history can make us more empathetic

After making more than 1.8 million Wikipedia edits, Justin Anthony Knapp has come to believe that there's 'a big difference between what really happened and how we frame it'. He hopes by making Wikipedia articles as objective and fair as possible, users will be able to understand history from a multitude of perspectives.

A teacher debunks historical myths to help his students get closer to the truth

Sebastian Major is a high school history teacher and also debunks historical untruths on his podcast Our Fake History. He argues being critical of the past will make you a better detective when it comes to believing current news stories... and ultimately, a better human being.

This episode originally aired on November 19, 2017.