Week of events and awareness highlighted by benefit concert “Secret Path Live” at Roy Thomson Hall October 19

TORONTO–The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) launches the second annual Secret Path Week next week, starting October 17th. The goal of Secret Path Week is to answer Gord Downie’s call to “do something” by creating reconciliACTIONs and furthering the conversation about the history of residential schools.

“Secret Path Week is about creating a national platform to have safe conversations, learn more about Indigenous culture and create awareness about the true history regarding residential schools. We encourage Canadians to take action, do something, to be part of the reconciliation movement,” said Sarah Midanik, CEO of the DWF.

Secret Path week includes educational events, Walk for Wenjack, and tributes to Chanie Wenjack and Gord Downie. The week is highlighted by a benefit concert at Toronto’s Roy Thomson hall on October 19, entitled Secret Path Live, which will raise money to support programming at the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund. The concert is a re-creation of the original 2016 performances that brought together renowned musicians to share Chanie Wenjack’s story through an immersive multimedia performance. Chanie was a 12-year-old Ojibwe boy who died while trying to escape an Ontario residential school in 1966.

“Gord felt Chanie’s story so deeply and intimately,” said Mike Downie. “When he spoke about Secret Path and his journey of becoming more aware of the impact of residential schools and the present treatment of Indigenous people, you could feel it had changed him. His passion emanated in every interview and performance. For Gord, changing the way Canadians studied and focused on our shared history was key to ensuring the learning and awareness continued – he insisted, “We have to get into the schools.””

DWF has implemented Legacy School programs in over 1300 schools. Legacy Schools exist in every province and territory in Canada and will also be activating reconciliACTIONs for Secret Path Week.

Secret Path Live Benefit Concert – October 19, Roy Thomson Hall 8.pm. ET

Secret Path Live is a re-creation of the 2016 performances that brought together renowned musicians to share the Chanie Wenjack story through an immersive multimedia experience.

The project, conceived by Gord and Mike Downie, intertwines the music from the Juno award-winning album, graphic novel by Jeff Lemire, and the animated film Secret Path to bring to light the painful legacy of Canada’s residential school system, and the long-suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families, to the national stage. The hope was to start a national conversation and further reconciliation.

Featuring the original Secret Path band, acclaimed Canadian musical guests, dancers, and artists will come together to create a fully immersive and cultural experience that celebrates Indigenous history and commemorates the lives of Gord and Chanie.

Performers will be backed by the original Secret Path band, which performed with Downie at the benefit concert three years ago, along with special guest appearances by:

Buffy Sainte-Marie
Sam Roberts
Tanya Tagaq
July Talk
William Prince
Tom Wilson

Inspired by Chanie’s story and Gord’s call to build a better Canada, the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) aims to build cultural understanding and create a path towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

DWF’s work centres around improving the lives of Indigenous people by building awareness, education, and connections between all Canadians. For more information, visit downiewenjack.ca.

Gord Downie began Secret Path as a collection of 10 poems inspired by the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who died of exposure on October 22, 1966. He was attempting to walk home from Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ontario, to return to family he was taken from over 600km away. The poems inspired the full-length album, graphic novel, and award-winning film trilogy.

Your donation contributes to reconciliation in Canada by supporting the development of resources for DWF programs such as Legacy Spaces, Legacy Schools, reconciliACTIONs and events that serve to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities together.

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