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Dr. Roberta Bondar flips roles to become interviewer in new podcast series

Bondar has been interviewed many times since her space flight almost 30 years ago, now she will be interviewing notable Canadians
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Canadian astronaut Roberta Bondar views a print of one of her own photographs. Bondar will host a series of podcasts where she interviews notable Canadians, including herself. Raymond Bowe/Village Media file photo

After spending almost 30 years of being interviewed as Canada’s first woman astronaut, Dr. Roberta Bondar is switching to the hosting chair for an upcoming podcast series.

Sharing Space with Dr. Roberta Bondar is a series of seven podcast episodes in which the Sault Ste. Marie-born astronaut will interview other notable Canadians, like singer Anne Murray, hockey player and M.D. Hayley Wickenheiser, CBC journalist Michael Serapio and fellow astronaut David Saint-Jacques.

Reached by phone on Tuesday, Bondar said it was important for her to reach out to people from a range of professions to ask how they found their passions, which might not be what many listeners would expect from the noted astronaut and neurologist.

“I don’t like to be pigeon-holed, I never have,” she said.

In the first episode, to be released on Wednesday, Bondar will play a dual-role and interview herself to kick off the series.

”Sometimes when I get asked questions I feel like I am the one who wants to ask them, because they are not necessarily the ones I want to get asked,” said Bondar of interviews she has taken part in over the years. “I don’t like to be pigeon-holed, I never have. I just wanted to get into a place where I was a little more creative.”

The series was created through The Roberta Bondar Foundation, a not-for-profit and that seeks to raise awareness for environmental issues through by inspiring curiosity.

“I thought this could be fun, to put the shoe on the other foot and see if I can’t deal with life differently. I think it’s an extension of my creativity and just trying to look at another way of communicating,” said Bondar.

“Especially with COVID, I think people are used to listening to podcasts differently than they used to. More people can access them in ways that fit their personal style,” she added.

Other episodes in the free podcast series will include interviews with singers Susan Aglukark and Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Bondar said Sainte-Marie is the only one of the interviewees she had never met before.

“The two of us got along so well, you would think we had been neighbours or friends for years. She was just very open and candid and we were both very relaxed,” said Bondar. “This is someone I had never spoken to before.”

In the case of her interview with Serapio, who is a CBC journalist who has interviewed Bondar in the past, the episode is a true role reversal.

“Michael is interesting because he is usually the interviewer, so the two of us flipped our roles on this one, which is kind of fun,” said Bondar.

All of the interviews have been recorded and will be released every other Wednesday on most podcast platforms.

“Whether I carry on depends on the reception for this. We will see where the winds of time and change and chance take me,” said Bondar.