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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Walk This Way

Kent Hoffman thinks about walking all the time. For him, it requires focus: where to place his feet, how to keep his balance, how to avoid falling. Kent lives with Becker muscular dystrophy, a progressive condition that weakens the muscles used for moving. For as long as he could, Kent hid his difficulty with walking, running, and climbing stairs. He'd sometimes refuse invitations and often tried to avoid situations where he might have trouble getting around rather than ask for help or a change in venue. But now, he's "coming out of the disability closet", sharing his story -- and for the first time, talking to someone else with Becker muscular dystrophy.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:22:41]

Deaf Heart

When Jodee Mundy was a kid she had to explain the fall of the Berlin Wall to her parents. Her family watched the TV as Jodee translated the words coming from the news report. It was normal for Jodee to translate for her parents, from doctors appointments to phone calls with the bank. That's because Jodee grew up as the only hearing person in an all deaf family. Jodee has spent her life moving between the mainstream and the Deaf community – negotiating, interpreting, and fighting off stigma – all the while feeling like a bit of an outsider in both worlds. As part of a doc trade with ABC's Earshot, we hear Jodee's story.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:26:14]

An Urgent Matter

"T" was being held in Toronto East Detention Centre when a Sargent came down the range, trying to warn the prisoners about COVID 19. She told them if they could get bail, to go for it. To try to get out before Coronavirus got in. T called his lawyer, Hilary Dudding, and asked her to do whatever she could to get him out on bail. T's story raises questions about what is "justice" in the face of COVID 19, and what does the pandemic tell us about Canada's prison system?

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[mp3 file: runs 00:27:45]

Living as We

Rachel lives with dissociative identity disorder. She shares a body with nine other distinct identities. In addition to Rachel there's Liam, Noell, Lexi, Jaime, Aleksa, Our Little, Jaejin, Minnie, and Graham. Each with their own personalities, interests, and roles in the system. That means 10 identities sharing one body... and trying to get along. And there may be more.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:32:15]

Talking About Vane

Julie Arounlasy's parents were born and raised in Laos.They came to Canada in 1987. Julie doesn't know much about her family's origins because they never really discussed it. There's a lot they've never really discussed... especially the death of Julie's mom, Vane. Now, Julie is talking to her brothers and her father about it for the first time and trying to understand why they haven't talked about it before.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:49]


Doc Project senior producer, Julia Pagel, is one of the many people now working from home in this pandemic. But working from home while parenting a toddler at the same time is a challenge. Her little guy has no idea why Mamma is hiding all day in a makeshift office, and his protests mount from a 'wailing war' to refusing to put his diaper back on. PLUS, Sam Mullins and his wife thought they had found the perfect Toronto rental home to raise their new baby in. That is, until Sam realized they had rats as roommates. How does a dad rally when the family home turns into 'Rathattan'?

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[mp3 file: runs 00:25:10]

Feeling Detention

Psychiatrist Rachel Kronick will never forget her first interviewees at the Laval Immigration Holding Centre. Two parents with their daughters, aged three and 10. Rachel and a team of researchers had rare access to the detention centre, to try to better understand how immigration detention affects children's mental health. Rachel kept a close eye on this family over their first three weeks in the centre, and was deeply concerned about the 10-year-old girl. "She went from hopeful and talkative and engaged, to hopeless, listless, withdrawn." So Rachel decided to risk her own research to help.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:56]


Laura Bain is trapped in her apartment in Rome, Italy, as the country enters another week of COVID 19 lockdown. But this isn't Laura's first lockdown. The Canadian is a former journalist posted to South Sudan, where lockdowns were a constant occurrence. She left South Sudan in January, after two years of curfews, restrictions, and threats of violence. She was looking for a new, freer life in Italy. Now, as this strange new lockdown happens around her, Laura revisits her memories of war zones, joins her Roman neighbours as they play music from their balconies, and tries to figure out how people stay standing when the world shifts beneath their feet.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:27:06]

Going Home

When Natasha Greenblatt landed in London, England to see the opening night of a play she produced, she got two texts: "The play is cancelled" and "Welcome to the apocalypse". Amidst the spread of COVID-19 throughout Europe and the UK, Natasha did the only thing she could think of -- head to her cousin's house and make art. She and her British cousins holed up, turning a bad situation into a space for creativity and closeness, sharing their fears but also inspiration.Now, as borders close, Natasha is struggling to get home to Canada, leaving the companionship of her cousins behind. 

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[mp3 file: runs 00:25:09]

Portrait of a Foster Family

When Sharon and Ken Greenock took in their first foster child, they were oblivious to the grief, chaos and love it would bring to their home. Now, with 7 children, this family is trying to keep together -- and keep it together. This episode comes to us from the Australian Broadcating Corporation where it originally aired on the show Earshot.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:44]

Swinn's Service

For the past 50 years Doug Swinn has started his day by opening Swinn's Service, the auto repair shop he founded near Tillsonburg, Ontario. He makes some coffee, turns on the radio, and checks the corn prices. Slowly customers roll in, and Doug greets each one by name. For years the business boomed. Doug kept it running through a recession and the downturn in tobacco industry. But today, the challenges might be too much for the rural garage. And what people stand to lose is a lot more than just a place to get their car fixed.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:39]

The Pedersons

In 1969, the lives of two young sisters in Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan, were changed forever. Six members of their family, including both of their parents, were murdered in their home while the sisters spent the night at their grandmother's. From that night on, Connie and Cynthia were left to make sense of life on their own. They say they received little to no support from the government or their community in the years that followed. Now, their children and grandchildren are asking why their mothers were left to suffer alone, and if anything can be done to help them heal?

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:08]

People Like Jack

When Kate McKenna started worrying about her drinking, she wanted to talk to the only person in her family who she knew had struggled with alcohol and gotten sober: her grandfather, Jack. But Jack passed away a few years ago. Now, Kate is travelling home to PEI to ask her grandfather’s AA buddies what advice he would have given her, if he were still alive.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:29:06]

Me, Myself and Han *Repeat*

Eunice Kim immigrated to Canada from Korea when she was five years old. She speaks fluent Korean, but recently, Eunice stumbled upon an unfamiliar word: han. Han is a word that has no English translation. It's used to describe a combination of fiery rage, grief and regret — a feeling so powerful, some believe you can die from it. To many Koreans, han is part of the cultural DNA. So, how exactly did it escape Eunice? Is it possible that she's inherited something she never even knew existed? What Eunice finds cracks open a side of her family, and herself, she never knew before. (originally aired May 21 & 24, 2019)

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[mp3 file: runs 00:27:02]

What's in a voice ?

Our voices say so much about us ...whether we like it or not. This week, we have two stories which investigate the power of how we sound. Gretel Kahn was born and raised in Panama, but moved to Montreal five years ago. She grew up speaking Spanish but now speaks English fluently, though with a slight accent. And this accent bugs her. We follow Gretel as searches for the source of frustration, and grapples with coming to terms with her own voice. Also, an update from the CBC classic radio show Outfront. Over 10 years ago we heard the story of one woman's struggle to save her voice, and the life it afforded her. We hear how she's doing today.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:30:06]

Life in Hiding

Ngurimuje "Laka" Mujoro lives in constant fear of a knock at her door. She came to Canada from Namibia in 2011 as an asylum seeker, but when her refugee claim was denied, she stayed. She has two Canadian children, and married their father, a permanent resident. Despite having her refugee claim denied in 2012, until last year Laka had been able to remain in Canada without difficulty. That all changed when the Canada Border Services Agency started doing sweeps in Fort McMurray where Laka lives. So, she went into hiding.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:00]

Credit Mills

Early in Karina Levin's grade 12 data management course, she knew she wasn't going to pass, so she dropped the course. She'd heard a lot of her friends were signing up at private schools to get better grades. Not the big, prestigious private schools with ivy and uniforms... but these small academies where you could do one or two courses for a fee. And the rumour was, you didn't have to do well to get an A⁠—you just had to buy it. In the wake of the admissions scandal in the U.S., Doc Project producer Julia Pagel, along with 19-year-old Ryerson journalism student Naama Weingarten, investigate what's really going on at the so-called "Credit Mills" in Ontario.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:29:33]

Rumours of Extinction

Shelly Boyd is Sinixt. She's from the Colville Reservation in Washington, just across the British Columbia border. Shelly is proud of her heritage and who she is... But her sense of home, of where her community belongs, is less solid. Over the last century and a half, the Sinixt were pushed off their land in B.C. and into the southern corner of their traditional territory in the U.S. In 1956, the Canadian government declared the Sinixt extinct. But ... they weren't. Now, they're fighting to reverse the extinction, and come home.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:29:24]

Library Shame

Catherine Cole is a self proclaimed bookaholic, with a particular affection for libraries. But returning library books has never been high on her list of priorities. Which was OK, until the day she incurred a 180 dollar fine, and was shamed in front of other library patrons. Now, with a chorus of other Library Shamed people (from late-returners to book-nibblers) Catherine Cole is looking for redemption, and once and for all, attempting to clear her record of all library shame.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:25:58]

The Spy Who Loves Me

Camilla Gibb has always known that her mother, Sheila, worked for MI5, the UK's counter-intelligence agency. (FYI, James Bond worked for MI6.) Camilla knows that her mom was a "secretary" and that she was posted to Trinidad in the 60's. But beyond that, Sheila's lips are sealed. She signed the Official Secrets Act and, as far as Camilla knows, her mother has never shared her secrets. But now, Camilla is determined to crack the code of her mom's past. And she's bringing in backup, including an intelligence historian, her mom's civilian friend from her MI5 days, and Camilla's own eight-year-old daughter.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:08]

The Cantonese Opera Singer

In 1938, Gar Yin was just 19 years old when she boarded a boat from Hong Kong to Vancouver. It was during the years of The Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned Chinese immigrants from entering Canada. But Gar Yin had something special: Cantonese Opera. Her troupe was allowed into the country, and Gar Yin set out on a national tour. When the tour was over... Gar Yin decided to stay, setting off a chain of events that have since become family legend. Gar Yin's granddaughter Julia Hune-Brown tells her story.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:36]

Its Own Little Life

Richard Kelly Kemick is the benevolent overlord of a miniature Christmas village. Bustling with 18 buildings, more than 60 people, and countless accessories. But this village of his own making... is beginning to unmake him. PLUS, sourdough starter, the ingredient that gives bread that special taste, is alive, and it picks up spores wherever it goes. The sourdough starter at the heart of this story is over 120 years old. It's been over the Chilkoot Pass with the gold rush, and to Ottawa with the senate, following generations of Ione Christensen's family. 

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[mp3 file: runs 00:29:11]

The Rainbow Railroad

Jane and Patricia are on their way to Canada, from Barbados, in the dead of winter. They're a couple, and in Barbados being gay can be punishable by life imprisonment. After enduring years of fear, harassment, violence, and even an arrest, Jane and Patricia's home was nearly burned down by someone they knew. They need to escape, fast. That's where Devon comes in. Devon works with Rainbow Railroad, a Toronto-based, international organization that gets people out of countries where being LGBT is criminalized. This episode was produced as a special collaboration with "The Documentary," from the BBC World Service.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:11]

A Highway at Christmastime

This holiday season, like thousands of others, Tom Howell will be stressfully zipper-merging onto Highway 401, on his way to visit friends and family. Ah yes, the 401. The busiest highway in North America. A grey, 16-lane hellscape. And the confluence of the two things: hellscape, and the season of goodwill, holiday cheer, etc., is making him think — Can we learn to love our fellow drivers, rather than Grinch up our hearts and Scrooge up our fists as some halfwit flies past us in the right-hand lane? Beside him in the passenger seat (i.e. taking turns, not all at the same time) are a driving instructor, an OPP sergeant, a speed-limit opponent, and Tom's highway-averse wife. Their wildly varying takes on life and appropriate behaviour on the highway raise issues of loyalty, ethics, manners, and neurosis—plus a few tips on better driving—during the most wonderful time of the year.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:30:58]

The Kerr Portions

Bob Kerr went from being a chubby kid to a fat teen. He learned to use his weight for jokes, even though he realized that his bullies weren't necessarily laughing with him. In college, Bob developed anorexia, and when it was on the verge of killing him, his parents made an extreme move: they called the police. Because the thing is, they'd already watched a son waste away. In Grade Six, Bob's younger brother John was starving himself and suicidal, and had to be wrenched away from a very dark place. Bob and John have never talked about how, and why, the two of them went down a similar path. Until now.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:27]

Blue Mountain

In 2018, as part of a special pilot program, Georgian College in southern Ontario recruited students almost exclusively from northern India, to help fill a desperate need for labour in hotels and resorts. Specifically, in the nearby ski town of Collingwood. The students have invested everything in the dream of permanent residency in Canada. For Harpreet Kaur Insan and Gurleen Singh, it's also about the dream of living their lives to their full potential, something neither of them feel they could have done had they stayed in India. But will they really find this opportunity here, in a snowy ski town a world away from everything they know?

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[mp3 file: runs 00:29:09]

The Boxer

Maddison Fraser was 21 when she died in a car crash thousands of kilometres from home. But this story isn’t about Maddison’s death. It’s about the life her mother, Jennifer Holleman, believes she was trapped in when she died. As Jennifer puts the pieces together, she is certain her daughter was a victim of human trafficking. Now, Jennifer is telling Maddison's story hoping to change how the police investigate human trafficking, to help survivors get out, and to alert other parents — who may have no idea what's happening to their children.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:29:03]

The Long Walk

Last Spring, Amiththan Sebarajah hiked the 1000+ kilometre Arizona Trail. The trail starts at the US-Mexico Border in Southern Arizona. These borderlands are contentious, uneasy places for brown-skinned people to negotiate, where border patrol agents are vigilant. As he hiked, Amiththan, hoped to promote diversity on the trails. But as he walked, he also carried the trauma of his memories from the Sri Lankan Civil War.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:29:47]

Three Oaks

Halfway through her 12th grade year at Three Oaks Senior High School in Summerside, PEI, Lydia MacDonald started feeling sick. Fatigue, nausea, severe headaches. Lydia's mom, Toby, started hearing from other parents whose kids were complaining of similar symptoms. Toby began to wonder about renovations going on at the school. Then it came out — there was a breach in protocol during renovations at Three Oaks. Asbestos had been mishandled, and Toby sprung into action. But the discovery of the breach in protocol raised more questions than it answered.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:30:41]

Rhonda's Roots

In 1968 a group of students at Sir George Williams University in Montreal (what is now Concordia) called out a professor for racism. The university's mishandling of that complaint led to one of the biggest anti-racism protests in Canadian history. Philippe Fils-Aimé was one of the protesters. Meanwhile, 3000 kilometres away in Texas, the daughter he didn't know he had, was adopted into a white family. Now, 50 years later, Rhonda Lux is discovering the truth about her racial heritage and finding Philippe — and a sense of belonging.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:28:41]

Kinder Surprise

When Jennifer Warren's six-year-old son steals a Kinder Egg from a grocery store, Jennifer seizes the moment and stages what she thinks will be an invaluable lesson. But it turns out, you can't make a morality omelette without cracking a few chocolate eggs. AND when Ada Posner was 27, her mother, Ilona Posner, decided to finally share something with her. Starting with her pregnancy and stretching on into Ada's childhood, Ilona had kept meticulous journals of nearly every waking (and sleeping) moment of Ada's life. But it turns out, Ada is also a super detailed journal-keeper... and so is Ilona's father, Vladimir.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:27:36]

Finding Janelle

Betty Bird has been looking for Janelle Mercredi for 33 years. In the early 80s they were best friends, teenagers with attitudes who liked to make each other laugh. But after only a year together, Janelle moved away. A few years later, she was dead. Betty never really knew what happened. She didn't even know where Janelle was buried. But Janelle's death set Betty on a new path. Now, Betty is on a mission to find out what happened to Janelle, and to visit her grave so she can say thank you to the friend who changed her life.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:34:05]

Searching for Slumach's Gold

A long-lost gold mine... supposedly worth billions. A curse muttered by a man just before he was hanged for murder. Missing bodies. Torn-out maps. A seemingly endless list of clues. Slumach's gold is the stuff of Canadian legend. The mine is said to be located only about 40 km from downtown Vancouver, near Pitt Lake. And it's been attracting treasure hunters for decades. Meet the brothers who've chased the legend behind Slumach's gold for 60 years, as well as the contrarian who delights in disproving them. And then, follow the 39-year-old adventurer who thinks he's a hair's breadth from finally finding it.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:30:03]

Secrets of Stanley Park

Growing up, Rennie Smith never thought much about Stanley Park. The 1000-acre urban park sits on a peninsula on the edge of downtown Vancouver, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. But every now and then someone would tell her she was a "throwback to the park." She never knew what they meant, until historian Jean Barman explained Rennie's family history to her. Rennie's family were from a mixed Squamish-Portuguese community who had lived in what is now Stanley Park for generations, until they were forced out and their houses were burnt down. Now, Rennie is on a mission to share the lost stories of Stanley Park.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:31:21]


As Spencer Conway was driving his brother home from the hospital, he was full of questions. Garret, Spencer's brother, had overdosed some 30 hours earlier. Garret suffered from depression and he'd tried to kill himself before. But still, the hospital had discharged him, so things must be fine? After Spencer dropped his brother off at his Halifax apartment, Garret tried to take his own life again. He died later in hospital. The thing is, Garret was part of a program called "The Circle of Support" that could have let his brother know that Garret's doctors didn't think he should be alone. So why wasn't Spencer told? Reporter Elizabeth Chiu asks that question in today's story, and finds that there are proven methods of suicide prevention that are not being implemented in Nova Scotia.

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[mp3 file: runs 00:29:54]