Gord Downie & Jeff Lemire
This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.
Secret Path is a graphic novel by musician Gord Downie and illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School fifty years ago.
Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids—more than anyone will be able to imagine—he tried.
Chanie’s story is Canada’s story. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable. Secret Path acknowledges a dark part of Canada’s history—the long suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system—with the hope of starting our country on a road to reconciliation. Every year as we remember Chanie Wenjack, the hope for Secret Path is that it educates all Canadians young and old on this omitted part of our history, urging our entire nation to play an active role in the preservation of Indigenous lives and culture in Canada.
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.”
Proceeds from Secret Path will be donated to The Gord Downie Secret Path Fund for Truth and Reconciliation via The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) at The University of Manitoba.
I am Chanie
Let it finally and adequately be told, this Story; to rise out of the dark corners of our history. Let it unwind us, so we can start to truly honour and learn of the lives and deaths of the thousands of residential school children.
I shook your hand Mr. Downie, outside your tour bus on a cold and blistery Sudbury night. What an honour It was for me. I commend you on the passionate path. I will join you, we all will. May Chanie's spirit continue to guide you. meegwetch.
Thank you, Gord and Jeff.
Read more, read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Missing Children and Unmarked Burials, for starters, then read the rest of the reports. They are well-written and very important. Chanie, thank you for your story. May your rest be peaceful.
A must read
This book, along with the album and video highlights and personalizes Canada’s great shame. I was born in Canada not long after these events. Reconciliation begins with recognition of what happened. Maybe this will begin to melt some hearts in this country