I can’t get enough of history, especially when it comes to Canada. What I dismissed as boring when I was in high school has become a fascination. And, thanks to APTN, I’ve learned a lot about Indigenous peoples and their stories.
A plethora of tales is told in Season 2 of Jennifer Podemski’s excellent Future History. Airing Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET, the program has really hit its stride in the sophomore go-round as producer-director Podemski follows Indigenous activist and artist Sarain Fox and archaeologist Kris Nahrgang through 13 half-hour episodes. For Nahrgang, this journey is deeply personal. He was raised not knowing anything about his First Nations roots and continues to gain knowledge this year. In the show’s May 14 debut, viewers learned how Nahrgang’s grandmother covered her skin with makeup to look white and joined what Nahrgang’s mother called “white clubs.”
“It’s not a story you often hear,” Podemski says. “Especially in this journey of reclamation, I think that many Canadians who see themselves as white, or non-Native, might never have considered they too might be a Kris.” The idea for Future History came about because of a meeting Podemski had with a production company working with Nahrgang on a possible archaeology project. The actress, writer, producer and director was intrigued at the idea of something historical, but with a future slant. Adding a younger co-host, Podemski reasoned, would polarize not just Nahrgang’s distance from his culture but his age and on-camera experience.
“That also helps people really understand that he is on a very uncomfortable journey,” she says. The uncomfortable feeling really comes through, especially when Nahrgang gamely agrees to attend an Ojibway immersion camp where no English is spoken for days. Fox and Nahrgang visit different areas of the country in their journeys, visiting Southern Ontario locales like Orillia, Peterborough, Kitchener and Manitoulin Island. Their segments are broken up by the Talking Stick, where Indigenous members of the community look straight into the camera to vent frustrations, give advice or voice concerns.
“We were only looking for a minute, but it started a lot of great conversations and I really wanted it to feel not necessarily thematically tied to the episode,” Podemski says. “I wanted it to be a voice from the community, another texture that may be totally unrelated to what we are talking about.
“When we’re telling stories through an Indigenous lens it’s so important to me that we don’t paint them with one brush.”
Future History airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on APTN. You can watch past episodes on APTN.ca.
Image courtesy of APTN.