Chanie Wenjack was an Anishinaabe boy born in Ogoki Post on the Marten Falls Reserve in Northern Ontario on January 19, 1954. In 1963, at the age of nine, Chanie and his sisters were forced to attend the Cecilia Jeffrey Residential School in Kenora, Ontario, 600 kilometres away from their family and community.
These are the only two photos that were ever taken of Chanie before he died in 1966 at just 12 years old. After running away from Cecilia Jeffrey Residential School, he walked for 36 hours before dying of exposure. His death sparked the first inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children in the residential school system. Chanie’s story, tragically, is like so many stories of Indigenous children in this country.
Each one of us can contribute meaningfully to move reconciliation forward.
Chanie is gone, but his story endures today in Secret Path, Gord Downie’s album, graphic novel, and animated film. Join the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund on October 17, 2023, as we launch this year’s Secret Path Week. Secret Path Week commemorates the legacies of Chanie and Gord annually from October 17-22. This is a meaningful week, as these dates mark the dates that Gord (October 17, 2017) and Chanie (October 22, 1966) joined the spirit world.
By sharing Chanie’s story with the world, we can help the world see him as he deserves to be seen, and preserve his legacy as we continue to move reconciliation forward. Each one of us can contribute meaningfully to move reconciliation forward.
To get started and to learn more about the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund and Secret Path Week at secretpathweek.ca.