Falen Johnson

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Falen Johnson
NationalityMohawk, Tuscarora Canadian
Alma materGeorge Brown College
Occupation(s)Playwright, podcaster

Falen Johnson is a Mohawk and Tuscarora playwright and broadcaster from Canada.

Personal life[edit]

Born in 1982, Johnson is from Six Nations of the Grand River and graduated from the George Brown Theatre School[1] in 2005. She is a member of the bear clan.[2] Johnson spent most of her formative years in Brantford, Ontario; she currently lives in Toronto.[3]

Work and education[edit]

She is the previous Coordinator of the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance, a member-driven organization of professional Indigenous performing artists and arts organizations. IPAA serves as a collective voice for its members and for Indigenous performing arts in Canada. It provides leadership, support, representation, advocacy, and practical assistance for the national development of Indigenous performing arts.[4]


Johnson's plays include Salt Baby, Two Indians, and Ipperwash. Her plays focus on contemporary Indigenous identity, navigating spaces as an Indigenous women, and colonial contexts.[5]

Salt Baby was Johnson's first play and focused on the story of an Indigenous women navigating the differences between 'rez life' and the city. The play was semi-autobiographical and based on her experience living in Six Nations and Brantford, Ontario.[3]

Johnson's play Two Indians is a dark comedy that explores the realities of being Indigenous in Canada.[6] Following its publication in book form in 2021, Two Indians was a shortlisted finalist for the Governor General's Award for English-language drama at the 2021 Governor General's Awards.[7]

She created Ipperwash (2018) in response to the Idle No More movement.[8] This play is rooted in the history of the 1995 occupation of the Ipperwash Provincial Park and focuses on the relationship of two cousins and kinship ties.[9] Ipperwash also marked Johnson's debut as a director and was created by working with member of the Stony Point Ojibway community.[5]

Johnson is currently working with Soulpepper Theatre on a play about the life of residential school survivor and artist Shirley Horn.[10]


Johnson co-hosts the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation podcast, Secret Life of Canada with Leah-Simone Bowen.[11] This podcast focuses on little known parts of Canadian history and explores the histories of marginalized communities in Canada.[12] Johnson has also been featured on The Moth storytelling podcast.[13]

In 2020, Johnson succeeded Rosanna Deerchild as host of CBC Radio's indigenous newsmagazine series Unreserved.[14]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Johnson was named one of the 20 people to watch in 2020 by Maclean's Magazine.[10]

In 2019 Johnson won the best audio work award at the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival. This award recognized her work on the Secret Life of Canada podcast.[15]

As part of its Indigenous Arts Award Laureates program, the Ontario Arts Council awarded Johnson with the Emerging Artist Award in 2015.[16]


  1. ^ Johnson, Falen. "Falen Johnson, Author at Intermission". Intermission. Retrieved 2020-03-02.
  2. ^ "FALEN JOHNSON | Soulpepper". soulpepper.ca. Retrieved 2020-03-02.
  3. ^ a b "Salt Baby: a play about Indigenous self-discovery". January 21, 2017. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  4. ^ "Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance". Retrieved 2020-03-03.
  5. ^ a b Johnson, Rhiannon (February 4, 2018). "Six Nations playwright makes directorial debut with Ipperwash". CBC News. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  6. ^ "New work by playwright Falen Johnson looks at Indigenous identity in the city". August 5, 2016.
  7. ^ "Ivan Coyote, David A. Robertson & Julie Flett among finalists for $25K Governor General's Literary Awards". CBC Books, October 14, 2021.
  8. ^ Eneas, Bryan (June 2, 2019). "Two Indians play shares on and off-reserve Indigenous perspectives". CBC News. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  9. ^ Nestruck, J. Kelly (February 8, 2018). "Review: You might want to do some research before seeing Falen Johnson's Ipperwash". The Globe and Mail.
  10. ^ a b "20 people to watch in 2020 - Macleans.ca". www.macleans.ca. Retrieved 2020-03-02.
  11. ^ "9 Great Podcasts Hosted By Indigenous Women - FLARE". www.flare.com. Archived from the original on 2020-02-19. Retrieved 2020-03-02.
  12. ^ Staff, Tyee (2019-10-28). "Vancouver Podcast Festival Is Back!". The Tyee. Retrieved 2020-03-02.
  13. ^ "The Moth | Stories | Invisible Toronto". The Moth. Retrieved 2020-03-02.
  14. ^ "Five questions for Falen Johnson, new host of Unreserved". Unreserved, September 8, 2020.
  15. ^ "in20: award winners". imagineNATIVE. Retrieved 2020-03-02.
  16. ^ "Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Arts Award Laureates". Ontario Arts Council. Retrieved March 3, 2020.