BPAC’s Legacy Space
Respect and Awareness
The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund
Inspired by Chanie’s story and Gord’s call to build a better Canada, the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund aims to build cultural understanding and create a path toward reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
The goal is to improve the lives of Indigenous people by building awareness, education, and connections between all Canadians.
Chanie Wenjack, misnamed Charlie Wenjack by his teachers, was an Anishinaabe boy born in Ogoki Post on the Marten Falls Reserve on January 19th, 1954. Chanie’s story, tragically, is like so many stories of Indigenous children in this country; he fell victim to Canada’s colonization of Indigenous Peoples.
In 1963, at the age of nine, Chanie was sent to the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential school in Kenora, Ontario. In 1966, at 12-years old, Chanie ran away from Cecilia Jeffrey, attempting to reunite with his family 600 kilometers away in Ogoki Post. Nine others ran away that same day, all but Chanie were caught within 24 hours.
Chanie’s body was found beside the railway tracks on October 22, 1966, a week after he fled. He succumbed to starvation and exposure. In his pocket was nothing but a little glass jar with seven wooden matches.
Gord Downie was the lead singer, songwriter and driving creative force behind The Tragically Hip, who brought their energetic, live performances to audiences around the world for over three decades. The group released their first album, The Tragically Hip, in 1987 and have since released thirteen studio albums, including their final album, Man Machine Poem (2016). Gord also enjoyed a career as a solo artist. He released six albums, including Secret Path.
Gord directed music videos, narrated the Waterlife and National Parks Project documentaries, and appeared in a number of films including director Michael McGowan’s One Week and director Mike Clattenburg’s Trailer Park Boys: The Movie. In 2014, Gord and his brothers, Mike and Patrick, along with Patrick Sambrook, started the production company Edgarland Films.
In August of 2016, Gord asked all Canadians to look at the state of Indigenous-settler relations in this country and to “Do something” to change them for the better. In December of 2016, Gord was given the Lakota Spirit Name, Wicapi Omani, which can be translated as “Man who walks among the stars” for his reconciliACTIONs.
Support the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund
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.