The Doc Project


The Doc Project

High-stakes storytelling at its most artful and human -- radio documentary on the next level. Stories lived, stories told.

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Towel of Song: a documentary-musical

One day, Tom Howell walked into a store on Toronto's Queen Street East, overwhelmingly drawn to a sign that said "Turkish towels have arrived at last!!!" Tom didn't know what a Turkish towel was. $250 later, he's still scratching his head over the thin, trendy towels, especially when confronted with his fiancée's insistence that they don't actually dry you - which she argues is a towel's one job. But still, Tom is inexplicably attached to his Turkish towels. Why, in the face of an item's questionable usefulness, do we hold onto it nonetheless? This is one of the questions that inspired our first ever Doc Project documentary-musical!

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:20]

Sisterhood of the Travelling Exoskeleton

When Alex McEwan walked across the stage at his high school graduation, the audience went wild. Not because he was collecting his diploma, but because he was walking at all; Alex is paralyzed. But Alex wasn't cured, he was using an exoskeleton, a wearable robot that lets patients control the motion of their legs through movements in their upper body. Only catch is, you don't get to keep it. Once you've had your turn with the exoskeleton, it passes on to the next person.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:20]

The Comedian's Guide to Family Bonding

At 12 years old, Zachary Coffin is quite possibly the youngest comic in Winnipeg. His mom, Dawn Lavand, makes for his best material. But Zack's got to be careful, because Dawn is a stand-up too! PLUS: Comedian Bob Kerr and his dad loved nothing better than sitting outside on summer evenings, looking at stars, listening to crickets... and arguing about homosexuality. Bob - who is straight - just couldn't convince his dad that gay people weren't "destined for the hell locker." But when his dad got sick, a nurse named Terry accomplished what Bob never could.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:29:09]

Kai and Wendy

There's a lot of common ground that parents share. From diaper changes to bedtime stories, or going to the park, or the local pool. But is there space on this common ground for parents with disabilities? In this documentary, Kai and Wendy talk honestly about how they must constantly adapt their parenting... as the infrastructure they parent within remains resolutely ableist.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:16]

Evidence of a Father

Author Camilla Gibb's father was brilliant, talented, but also menacing. Thirty years after he disappeared, Camilla got a message from a doctor saying, "I believe I am taking care of your father." Suddenly Camilla knew where he was... and what had happened to him. The discovery sent Camilla on a journey across the country and into her past. (Rebroadcast. Originally aired April 17, 2018)

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[mp3 file: runs 00:27:50]

Life in a Laundry Room

Nearly half of Nunavut's population of 38,000 people lives in overcrowded conditions. But it's hard to imagine exactly what that looks like... until you meet Brenda Maniapik. Brenda is a mother of four who lives in Iqaluit, in a windowless laundry room. She's been living there for seven years, while she waits for public housing. So what's the hold up? This week, we climb the bureaucratic ladder to the source of Nunavut's housing crisis. And try to get some answers for Brenda.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:20]

Bite out of Life

On this episode, four stories from the dentist's chair and beyond! Essayist Kate Burnham's discount dentist found a tooth behind her nose... and things went downhill from there. PLUS, the most horrific 21st birthday present a girl could ask for, a 90-year-old's advice on how to keep smiling, and what to do if your dog eats your denture.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:20]

Asian Glow

Samantha Lui remembers the first time it happened. She was 17-years-old and shared a vodka cooler with her cousins. It was fun, it tasted like apple juice... and it turned her face bright, tomato red. The condition is called "Asian Glow" (or technically "Alcohol flush reaction"). About one in three people of East Asian descent carry this trait, which causes you to turn red when alcohol hits your bloodstream. For Samantha, her Asian Glow can make drinking feel isolating. It makes her self-conscious, especially in social or professional settings. Now, following her 27th birthday, Samantha is seeking out other Asian-Glowers, hoping to find answers and a community. And maybe even find a way to love her glow.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:20]

Tokin' With Zaidy

Despite their 60-year age difference, Thomas Goldhar and his grandfather Moe are soulmates. Thomas has learned a lot from Moe over the years. So when 21-year-old Thomas realized that marijuana was being legalized in Canada the day before his Zaidy's 80th birthday, he had an idea. And Moe? Moe's the kind of octogenarian who's open to anything.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:26:38]

Medieval Combat

Steve Pearson has always been into martial arts. Judo, taekwondo... and now, medieval combat. As in, with armour and long swords. Steve is a member of The Company of The White Wolf - Yukon's medieval combat team. Steve is on his way to Scotland to compete against the best knights in the world. And he has a lot to prove. (Rebroadcast. Originally aired September 10, 2018)

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:20]

Heart of Gold

Marty Yanishewski and Renee White love nothing more than spending a romantic day by the river together. Well, more precisely, a romantic day IN the river, up to their knees, digging in the mud. They're competitive gold panners, and their stadium is the Saskatchewan River. NEXT, three student journalists interview their parents about how they met and fell in love. PLUS, Nick Dourado and his partner have a very special relationship. They've been together since middle school. They've travelled the world together. All of their friends are jealous of their bond. And only one of them is human.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:05]

The Lost Skiier

In February 2018, Danny Filippidis, a Toronto firefighter, was on a ski trip with some friends. He left his buddies to go get his phone at the bottom of the slope. That's the last anyone saw of him for six days. Now, the only journalist who was ever granted access to Danny sits down to talk - about what we now know, one year later, and what no one ever will.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:03]

The Mountain Between Us

Asaf Nehama and Mohamed Agbariya live a 20-minute drive from each other in Israel. But if it weren't for a summer camp in Ontario, the two teenage boys never would have met - or even spoken to each other. That's because back home, they're worlds apart. For a month at Camp Shomria, in a program meant to bring Jewish and Palestinian teenagers together, Asaf and Mohamed lived, slept, ate, swam, and bonded side by side. And just like that, the two became close friends. But friendships can be complicated. Would what happened in Canada... stay in Canada?

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:07]

FU, eh?

Eric Musekamp and Darlene Dunlop never planned on becoming activists... they were farm labourers and truckers, working in Alberta's agricultural industry. But after seeing so many workplace accidents - including Eric's alternate being killed while driving the rig they shared - the couple decided they had no choice. Until recently, farms in Alberta were exempt from virtually all workplace health and safety laws - including employers being required to purchase workplace insurance for their employees. A couple's fight for one of the most contentious bills ever passed in Alberta - and why many farmers opposed it so passionately.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:16]

Winning the Punk Rock Lottery

Mike Hodsall is one of those guys who never gave up on his big dream. He's wanted to be a rock star since he was a kid. But the closest he got was his AC/DC cover band, BC/DC - where Mike dressed up in a cow suit for laughs. Mike was poor and pushing 40. It looked like his dream would never become reality. But then, in a twist of fate, Mike found himself in Canada's most legendary punk band: D.O.A., playing beside his hero, 62-year-old frontman Joey "Sh*thead" Keithley.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:29:33]

This is for Andrea

Beverly Ndukwu was diagnosed with sickle cell disease when she was two years old. Out of four siblings, she was the only one in her family with the disease. But then a fifth sibling came along - Beverly's baby sister Andrea. She had sickle cell too. The sisters developed a special bond, until the disease took Andrea's life. Now, 12 years after Andrea's death, Beverly is living on with sickle cell. And turning her anger into action.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:16]

Castle of Ouds

"My name is Radwan Altaleb. I'm a musician. My instrument is oud. I'm from Syria. Music is my life, and my life is music."To Radwan Altaleb, now living in Canada, the oud is more than a musical instrument. It's a means of remembering his life in Syria. Radwan's passion for the oud has led him to amass more than 60 instruments - from dozens of the finest makers across the Middle East. It's one of the largest individual oud collections in the world. But he still can't stop thinking about the two ouds he left behind when his neighbourhood in Damascus was destroyed.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:09]

Big Food, Big Feels (Rebroadcast)

The holidays can be joyful, but they can also be tough - especially for those who've lost family members. Jennifer Warren takes on her late dad's perplexing mincemeat recipe (with ingredients ranging from Guinness to rutabaga). ALSO, following her mother's death, 18-year-old Toula Nikas taught herself to cook to keep her family together. (Originally aired December 19, 2017)

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:40]

Amazing Grace

One day, Doc Project producer Veronica Simmonds was walking down Grace Street in Toronto, eating a slice of pizza, when she stumbled upon a plaque. It was dedicated to Grace Bagnato. In 1921, Grace became one of the first female court interpreters in Canada. But that's just the start of it... Follow Veronica's journey uncovering the legacy of the amazing Grace Bagnato.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:06]

The Children of Fairbridge Farm

From the 1860s to the 1940s, more than 100,000 British children were separated from their families and sent to Canada. They were known as British Home Children, and were often treated as free farm labour. Fairbridge Farm, on Vancouver Island, was supposed to be different. The farm school promised better training, and a better life. But it didn't always work out that way. Now, a legacy of "Fairbridgians" and their children are looking for answers.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:10]

A Tale of Two Jennifers

Two different Jennifers, at 11 years old, take flight towards a whole new identity. Jennifer Yoon came to Canada when she was 11. But when she arrived, she had only been "Jennifer" for a few minutes. On the flight from Korea, her mom told her to choose a more Western name. Now, 14 years later, Jennifer is wondering - should she make it official and become Jennifer legally? PLUS the night before her Grade 6 school photo, Jennifer Warren walked into the hair salon across the road from her house. And she walked out... with an epic fail of a haircut. Soon after, she was also cast as the lead in her school play, a modern-day musical version of the Pilgrim's Progress. Would the lure of the stage be her salvation? Could Grade 6 get any more humiliating?

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:08]

PODCAST EXCLUSIVE: Music from "The Pipeliner Wives Club"

Adrienne Pan, producer of the documentary "The Pipeliner Wives Club," speaks to singer-songwriter Chelsea Savage about music, inspiration, and the pipeline life. This behind the scenes conversation pairs with the episode "The Pipeliner Wives Club."

Download PODCAST EXCLUSIVE: Music from "The Pipeliner Wives Club"
[mp3 file: runs 00:15:32]

The Pipeliner Wives Club

Adrienne Pan is a host at CBC Edmonton. Her husband, Ben, is a utility welder who works on pipelines. When they first met, Ben had decided to leave that life behind. Then, three years into their marriage, he got back into it. Ben is now on a seven-month Enbridge contract, living over 1,000 km away from his wife. This is not the marriage Adrienne had in mind. So, she's reaching out to a group she's suddenly found herself a part of - a group she calls "The Pipeliner Wives Club."

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[mp3 file: runs 00:30:23]

Addict Samaritan

Danny MacKillop was homeless and struggling with addiction, stealing to get money for his next high. But when a Toronto special constable left $40 in an ATM, Danny chased him down and returned the money. The officer posted about Danny's good deed on Facebook and tagged him. Danny's mother, Mary, hadn't seen him in 8 years, but she saw the post. Mary knew immediately what she had to do. She packed a bag and flew from her home in Cape Breton to Toronto, to search the streets for her son, and save his life.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:01]

Music in the Attic

After Pat Maloney's death, his widow, Joanne, found dozens of tapes hidden away in the attic. Now she's called up her neighbour who's a musician to help digitize them. He presses play. And just like that, a neighbour and a family discover the hidden life of Pat Maloney.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:27:36]

Going The Distance

When Sarah Roselen got sick, she got sick fast. What she thought was bronchitis, or maybe pneumonia, turned out to be Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, an aggressive cancer. And just like that, her life in remote Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, was put on hold. For months of harsh chemotherapy, she's had to relocate to Edmonton, a 14-hour drive away from her partner and young son. But Sarah is finding a surrogate family in her new Edmonton home: Compassion House, where women with cancer from far-flung communities can live and recuperate together during treatment. And they're learning the best treatment is each other.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:27:40]

Psychic Pet Detective

Robert Lindblad is a self-described psychic in Montreal. His friends say he developed this ability after a traumatic childhood accident. Robert doesn't charge for his services... like when Portland, Oregon's Lisa Lieberman swears he helped find her beloved Dachshund-Yorkie mix, Lucy, in real time, using Google Maps, from over 4,000 kilometres away. And when a Montreal couple were thrilled to learn the whereabouts of their beloved grey tabby, Titite. Learn more about the man who pet owners say is purr-fectly legit, and decide for yourself - do you believe?

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[mp3 file: runs 00:27:36]

The Invisible Woman

In Canada, more than 200 languages are spoken. So how does this play out in our hospitals? For palliative care physician Evan Schneider, communicating bad news is a fundamental part of the job. Every day he has to navigate emotionally charged conversations - sometimes with patients don't speak the same language as him. Meanwhile, Maria Anna Calamia tries to be invisible at work. It's her job as a medical interpreter - translating between doctors and patients who don't speak the same language. But there are times that Maria Anna has been deeply affected by the conversations she facilitates. Her goal is to try not to let it show.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:26:36]

The Skinny Twin

Bridget and Brianna are identical twins. And they are really close. Growing up, they had the same friends, liked the same sports, and shared everything - except Bridget had and eating disorder and Brianna didn't. Now, a decade since the height of Bridget's illness, the twins are asking if their DNA is identical, why did this happen?

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[mp3 file: runs 00:27:40]

Raising Hair

Amelia "Ed" Pittbrooke will never forget the first time she walked into a barbershop. She was hoping to finally get what she'd always wanted - a typical men's haircut. But it didn't go according to plan. Lots of people have a bad haircut story, but for LGBTQ people, getting your hair cut can be a minefield. ALSO, for almost 20 years Tej Swatch was in a battle... with his beard. And his beard was winning. The story of the lengths one man went to to conquer his beard.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:27:41]

All I Have Is Now

Looking back, there were warning signs. Starting in his late fifties, John Alex McDonald would forget things. He would continually misplace his keys and his wallet, but he chalked it up to absent-mindedness. Then, one day, he was driving on the highway and suddenly forgot everything. Where he was. Who he was. It was 10 minutes before he remembered, and his new reality set in. PLUS, when author Ivan Coyote went to visit their 97-year-old grandma for the last time, they'd been warned that Grandma Patricia now gets things, especially people, confused. But that night Grandma Patricia knew exactly who Ivan was.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:10]

PODCAST EXCLUSIVE: Behind the scenes with John Alex McDonald

Acey speaks with John Alex McDonald and Alison Cook, subject/writer and producer, respectively, of the essay "Can't Remember, Can't Forget." They discuss making a piece about early-onset Alzheimer's while navigating the effects of the disease. This behind the scenes conversation pairs with the episode "All I Have Is Now."

Download PODCAST EXCLUSIVE: Behind the scenes with John Alex McDonald
[mp3 file: runs 00:15:59]

Toronto Blind Jays

The Jays have one big dream: to make it to the World Series. Not the Toronto Blue Jays... the Toronto Blind Jays! They play "Beep Ball" - baseball for the blind, so named because the ball beeps, as do the bases. The Blind Jays are Canada's only blind baseball team. They're headed to the World Series of Beep Ball in Wisconsin, determined to beat their rivals and move up in the rankings. One beep at a time.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:27:40]

The Hopeless Mountain

While desperately trying to make space in his home for his girlfriend to move in, Tom Howell unearths 20 years of unfinished To-Do lists. He dubs the chaos "The Hopeless Mountain". What follows is a personal quest in which Tom sets out to master the art of completing a To-Do list. For once.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:27:40]

Medieval Combat

Steve Pearson has had more than his share of challenges. Born with a short femur, he had 26 surgeries on his right leg throughout his childhood and teens. But the surgeries didn't stick, and at 20 his leg was amputated. So what did Steve do? He joined The Company of The White Wolf - Yukon's medieval combat team. Now, Steve is on his way to Scotland to compete against the best knights in the world. And he has a lot to prove.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:27:40]

Auntie Karrie

Karrie Würmann always knew she was adopted. But only last year did she learn the context of that adoption, when a visit to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights introduced her to the Sixties Scoop. This new information changed how she saw her past and her family. Now, Karrie has decided to return to the people and community she was taken from. And her adoptive nephew, Isaac, is going with her.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:27:41]

Beulah's Beach (Summer Rebroadcast)

Beulah Chandler was on her favourite Cape Breton beach when she saw the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen. It was Duncan Gillis, a stranger, helping his ailing wife walk. Beulah posted a video of the couple online. Forty thousand views later, their story is only beginning, starting with the real reason Beulah was on the beach that day. (Originally aired April 30, 2018)

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[mp3 file: runs 00:30:56]

All the people on my street (Summer Rebroadcast)

Tom Howell has lived in his house in Toronto's East York neighbourhood for 15 years. But last year, he learned that there was a New Year's Eve party for the people on his street... and he hadn't been invited. This discovery, and the realization that he has only learned the names of 5 people on his street in 15 years, leads Tom on a quest to find out what exactly it means to be a good neighbour. (Originally aired March 5, 2018)

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[mp3 file: runs 00:29:18]