When Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip was a little boy, his older brother, Mike told him a story that haunted him forever. In the Feb 1, 1967 issue of Maclean's, the cover story described the harrowing tale of a 12-year-old Indigenous boy, who in late October 1966, died trying to run away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ontario. Chanie was trying to make his way home, which was 400 miles northeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario on a reservation. Instead, his lifeless body was found by the railroad tracks not far from the school.
Marking the 50th anniversary of Chanie Wenjack's passing, Downie created Secret Path, a multi-media project that includes an illustrated book, album and television program documenting this tragedy. The Secret Path acknowledges a dark time in Canada's history, but Gord hopes that awareness through this project and the Gord Downie Secret Path Fund, that the path to reconciliation will move the country forward. "Chanie is my brother now. His story is Canada's story. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable," says Downie.
The hour-long, commercial-free animated film Sunday, October 23, 9:00 pm (9:30 NT), CBC.
Gord turned the poems he wrote about this tragedy into a ten-song album.
The 88-page graphic novel is illustrated by award-winning author Jeff Lemire, and visually tells the story of 12-year-old Ojibway Chanie Wenjack. Secret Path, $26.99
*Proceeds from Secret Path will be donated to The Gord Downie Secret Path Fund for Truth and Reconciliation.
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