Gord Downie on stage with Tragically Hip during Fully Completely 2015 Annivesary Tour (Mel Z / Rogers)
Gord Downie on stage with Tragically Hip during Fully Completely 2015 Annivesary Tour (Mel Z / Rogers)

All eyes — and ears have been fixed on Gord Downie for the past number of months.

We went through a national convergence when the Tragically Hip artist revealed that Canada’s beloved lead singer was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. We battled for tickets to the concerts. We downloaded, streamed and bought those Hip albums that we listened to on the radio all those years, bringing the band to the top of music sales in this country — again.

We donated in droves to support the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center for brain cancer research.

We shut off the world in the middle of summer to turn on CBC and watch the two-plus hour concert streamed live. We listened as Gord drew attention to the injustices faced by our First Nations communities on that stage, in front of millions of Canadians.

Now Gord has called our attention to come together to take a closer look at one of Canada’s serious social and cultural issues with his project The Secret Path. It is the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year old boy that died 50 years ago while running away from a residential school. The inspiration came from a Maclean’s article written in 1967.

Gord Downie Secret Path
Gord Downie’s letter posted to Facebook – Secret Canada (Gord Downie / Facebook)

The Secret Path is Downie’s solo album that will include poetry written by Gord Downie, recorded as songs back in 2013. There will be a graphic novel and an animated film broadcast on CBC October 23rd.

Secret Path acknowledges a dark part of Canada’s history – the long-supressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system – with the hope of starting our country on a road to reconciliation. Proceeds from Secret Path will go to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba.

Gord Downie Secret Canada
The Secret Path graphic novel by Gord Downie & Jeff Lemire (Gord Downie/Jeff Lemire)

“Canada is not Canada,’ Downie said from Ogoki. “The next hundred years are going to be painful as we come to know Chanie Wenjack and the thousands like him — as we find out about ourselves, about all of us — but only when we do, can we truly call ourselves ‘Canada.'”

The Secret Path album and graphic novel can be pre-ordered now — donations can be made directly to the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation.

Mel Z – Midday Show 10am – 3pm on Ocean 98.5

Filed under: Chanie Wenjack, First Nations, Gord Downie, Secret Canada, Secret Path, Tragically Hip, Truth and Reconciliation