WINNIPEG – He is finished his last tour, but he’s not done making music. Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie is releasing a new album next month.
The proceeds will be donated to the support of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba.
It’s called “Secret Path”. It’s a pairing of a solo album and a graphic novel.
It tells the story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who died walking away from a residential school in Kenora. He was trying to get home, but was more than 600 km away.
In a statement, Downie says the story of the young boy resonates with him.
“Chanie haunts me. His story is Canada’s story. This is about Canada. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written,” he said.
University of Manitoba President David Barnard says he’s thrilled with Downie’s support.
“Anything that raises the profile of the issue I think and the value of the work that’s happening and will happen over the next number of years at the National Centre is very welcome to us. And of course to have someone of the iconic Canadian visibility of Gord Downie associate himself with it has been very gratifying,” Barnard said.
He thinks the project will help bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians.
“It’s a huge, emotional experiential gap to bridge. All of us need to understand it so we can build a secure future for the country.”
Downie says he never knew Chanie, but will always love him.
“The next hundred years are going to be painful as we come to know Chanie Wenjack and thousands like him – as we find out about ourselves, about all of us – but only when we do can we truly call ourselves, “Canada”,” he writes.