A Canadian National Railways engineer passing on a freight train discovered his body beside the track. After the autopsy, Chanie’s coffin, accompanied by his three younger sisters who had also boarded at Cecilia Jeffrey, was returned to his home at Ogoki Post. In Downie’s lyrics Chanie says: “I will not be struck. A coroner’s inquest into Wenjack’s death was held 17 November 1966. P. Bush,“Charlie Wenjack and the Indian Residential School System,” Presbyterian History vol. And when the Aboriginal political leaders of his time demanded racially-segregated self-government, as prime minister he told them Canada would not let them have it without a serious – and perhaps bloody – fight. Colin Wasacase – who was recognized as an outstanding Ontario senior citizen by Lieutenant Governor David Onley in 2012 and currently serves as a Kenora city councillor – escorted them on the long journey home. However, most of what is written and shown in these accounts about the tragic death of an Ojibway boy named Chanie Wenjack – an alleged victim of the residential school system whose frozen body was found curled up beside railway tracks in northwestern Ontario on the morning of October 23, 1966 several days after he ran away from a former Indian residential school where he was … Chanie Wenjack was a young indigenous boy who died trying to escape a residential school, who became the centre of Downie's Secret Path project. One day they won’t hurt me anymore.”, According to the 1967 Maclean’s story by Ian Adams, which Gord Downie and Joseph Boyden say they have read, young Chanie had made no attempt to run away during the previous three years he stayed at Cecilia Jeffrey. The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund is a registered charity. Twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack died in 1966 running away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School. His death in 1966 sparked national attention and the first inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children in Canadian residential schools. THE GORD DOWNIE & CHANIE WENJACK FUND Read about the Fund, which seeks to support cross-cultural education and reconciliation. At 11:20 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, October 23, 1966, the engineer of a westbound freight train spotted Chanie’s frozen body curled up at the side of the tracks. body was bruised from repeated falls. Nor is there any to support Boyden’s description of Chanie being sodomized by a cleric in Wenjack, which is being used in elementary school classrooms despite its vivid – and horrifying – detail: “He lies down beside me on the skinny mattress that smells of old pee and he takes me in his arms and holds me. His friends’ uncle showed him how to get to the railway tracks that would take him there and told him to ask railway workers for food along the way. P. Bush,“Charlie Wenjack and the Indian Residential School System,”. The coroner and Crown attorney questioned witnesses, including the boys who had been with Wenjack during his escape and the men with whom they had stayed. Presbyterian Church in Canada, and paid for by the federal government. He did not make it. DYING FOR AN EDUCATION This CBC Thunder Bay Special Report on Charlie Wenjack includes interviews with Wenjack’s sisters, primary documents from Cecilia Jeffrey School and the coroner’s inquest. She can see something in him she thinks. The weather turned harsh, with snow squalls and freezing rain. Ultimately, a theatre in the college was named “Wenjack Theatre.”. Part II, “Every Store And School Should Be Open.”Confronting The Pandemic With Confidence, Our Next Pandemic Policy Mistake: Self-Sufficiency In All Things, Evaluating Alberta and Canada’s pandemic response, You Say You Want a Revolution? Evidence of how he must have fainted and fallen as he stumbled along the rough railway tracks was found in bruises on his shins, forehead and over his left eye. Wasacase had attended residential schools as a child and taught in residential schools at Birtle and Norway House, Manitoba, before becoming a vocational counsellor with Indian Affairs in Winnipeg. THE LONELY DEATH OF CHARLIE WENJACK Read Ian Adams’ 1967 article that brought Charlie Wenjack’s story to national attention, THE SECRET PATH Learn more about Gord Downie’s multimedia project, “The Secret Path,” which focuses on the life of Chanie Wenjack. Today a bellicose Russia is still tormenting its neighbours, China is on a global rampage and democracy itself is looking beaten-up. reports. Mike Downie, right, speaks with people who attended his presentation of Secret Path, a multi-media project he worked on with his late brother, musician Gord Downie, that tells the story of Chanie Wenjack. It portrayed a gasping Chanie running out a back door of Cecilia Jeffrey looking furtively over his shoulder as if he were being chased. Gwyn Morgan assesses several key areas of our nation’s battered economy and reviews the central role played by poorly thought-out, unneeded and avoidable government policies in each one. The manuscript is a collection of songs that tell a story of Chanie Wenjack, who died journey a residential propagandize 50 years ago. Wenjack’s story, as well as the many similarly tragic stories of residential school students, led to eventual legislative reforms and class action lawsuits, including the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Gord Downie began Secret Path as ten poems, incited by the story of Chanie Wenjack, a twelve year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ontario, fifty years ago, walking home to the family he was taken from over 400 miles away. Chanie was a boy who died 50 years ago trying to return home from residential school. When they awake, though, they will feel the shame of having touched one another, if even just for warmth. By 1960, the number of Aboriginal students in Canada attending “non-Indian schools” (9,479) was equal to the number living in residential schools (9,471). When he did leave on the afternoon of Sunday, October 16th it was in the company of two orphaned brothers. Journalist Ian Adams brought Wenjack’s story to national attention with his article, “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack,” published by Maclean’s in February 1967. A CN engineer discovered Wenjack’s body on the side of the railway track. Is it right?” This prompted ethical and moral questioning of the culturally oppressive and abusive environments in the residential schools. Chanie Wenjack, an Anishinaabe boy from Ontario, ran away from his residential school near Kenora at age 12, and subsequently died from hunger and exposure to the harsh weather. I think that the government should do something about repaying the First Nations because no one had done anything about it and it was wrong.”, “Chanie’s story has impacted our lives and we want change…If we continue to educate kids and adults all around the world history will not repeat itself.”, “It was really, really, sad to think that a group of people thought kids should be taught in a certain way. The Kielburgers encouraged readers to donate money to the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund, which will be used to create “Legacy Rooms” in restaurants, schools, libraries and corporate boardrooms. According to a detailed story about Chanie’s death published in Maclean’s in February, 1967, he was one of about 150 Aboriginal students who lived there while they were going to the public school. The Wenjack family later learned the details of the inquest through CBC radio and newspaper His stomach was empty, his lungs full of bacteria. Copyright 2021 © C2C Journal All Rights Reserved. His son, current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, holds very different views. He pushes me on my stomach. 58, no. He was attempting to walk home from Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ontario, to return to … “Chanie Wenjack was just 12 when his body was found beside the railroad tracks just days after he ran away from his residential school in Kenora, Ont. Wenjack survived for the next 36 hours. Wenjack has become a symbol of resistance to the power of colonization in Canada. Chanie and his friends didn’t make it to the uncle’s cabin that first day. Children in schools across Canada are learning about the Indian residential schools through Secret Path, a 2016 graphic novel written by Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie and illustrated by Jeff Lemire. Canadian rock musician Gord Downie and artist Je LeMire turned Chanie Wenjack’s story into an award-winning album of songs, a graphic novel, and an animated video called “The Secret Path.” 17 Building Bridges 2019/2020: Level 1, Issue 1 At Cecilia Jeffrey, principal Colin Wasacase, a member of the Cree Nation, instituted strapping as punishment for students who In fact he had been playing with his friends on the swings at the playground until just before they took off. Wenjack started residential school at Cecilia Jeffrey when he was nine years old and was placed in grade one. According to Adams’ article in Maclean’s, he followed them on foot and spent Thursday night with them. It tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12 year-old Ojibwe boy who died of hunger and exposure while running away from a residential school in northern Ontario in 1966. Instead, he died of exposure. But Secret Path clearly implies that he died after fleeing abuse. Chanie’s best friend testified at the inquest into his death that “he ran away because he was lonely.” One of Chanie’s public school teachers told the inquest he had said he longed to return to his family. Now it’s being taught to children in schools across Canada. That was the last time anyone saw him alive. Milloy, A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879–1986 (1999); The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada,Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future (2015). escape. Colin Wasacase, a Cree/Saulteaux from the Ochopowace Band east of Regina, was in charge of the 150 children boarding at Cecilia Jeffrey. The school was run by the Women’s Society of the Presbyterian Church. "We are proud to co-create a meaningful partnership with this organization and contribute to Reconciliation in Canada, … Wenjack was over 60 km from the Cecilia Jeffrey School. Jeff Lemire’s drawings show nuns in habits delousing naked Ojibway boys while they cover their genitals with their hands. The elite’s war on the middle’s prosperity, social mobility and freedom has been accelerating. His skin is gizhaate. We don’t have the tools to fix it.” And for good measure Boyden writes: “The only thing the school he’s run away from has taught him is how to be fearful of adults.”, There is no evidence in Adams’ 1967 story or in anything else that was written at the time to support Boyden’s fictionalized account. I think they don’t know, too.”. (Adrian Wyld/CP) I am a outrageous Tragically Hip fan. Kelly advised Wenjack to follow the railroad tracks and to ask railway workers for food. The Rooms are intended to “expand awareness” about the legacy of residential schools, and foster “reconciliation” between natives and non-natives. Chanie Wenjack was not attending an Indian residential school at the time of his death and Cecilia Jeffrey was not operated by the Catholic Church. The young boy looks up at him fearfully. At the time, Chanie and the other children from remote reserves in the region were attending public schools because of a major shift in government policy. Downie recounted in Friday’s release how the boy died beside railroad tracks after escaping the school and trying to walk to his home more than 600 kilometres away. Neither Adams’ article in Maclean’s nor anything else written at the time supports Boyden’s account of the guilt-ridden boys having “touched one another”. When Senator Lynn Beyak suggested last year that the history of residential schools in Canada was something less than a horrific church-state orchestrated cultural “genocide”, she was widely condemned as ignorant and insensitive, even racist. He was contemptuous of its expression in Quebec’s separatist movement. He died of exposure and hunger. The main theatre in Otonabee College at Trent University is named in his honour. He had died from starvation and exposure. "The DWF is an amazing organization that is building on the legacy of two incredible people (Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack) to encourage people to learn about Reconciliation and take action," said Lisa Frizzell, Vice President of Stakeholder Relations at the NWMO. Nobody knows exactly when.” The post-mortem that was subsequently performed on Chanie by a Kenora doctor showed that his lungs were infected at the time of his death. He became lonely and ran away. Contrary to what children are being taught in Secret Path, 12-year-old Chanie was actually attending a public school in Kenora at the time of his death and only boarded at the nearby former Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School, which was operated by the Presbyterian Church of Canada. There is no evidence of physical or sexual abuse to support Downie’s lyrics. Later in the book a shivering Chanie is shown shuffling along the railway tracks in his attempted return to his far-away home, as the cleric looks on menacingly through the trees. Wenjack walked the nearly 5 km to meet them, then set out alone to find his father. Children ran away frequently from residential schools. Proceeds from the "Secret … Robert MacBain took the time. Canada’s economy was supposed to have been cruising along the road to recovery by late last year. Whispering, ‘Don’t let this touch you’.”. We have fallen a long way since the day, seemingly lifetimes ago, when “The End of History” and the global triumph of liberal democracy were considered plausible political predictions. After two years, he was put in remedial classes with special instruction in English and arithmetic. Joseph Boyden and filmmaker Terril Calder. Wenjack’s father had only received an earlier The mother of Chanie Wenjack, the 12-year-old boy who died while trying to escape an Ontario residential school in 1966, has died. If Downie, Lemire, Boyden and the Kielburgers truly want to advance the goal of reconciliation, they should start by telling the truth about what happened to Chanie Wenjack. In his escape, Wenjack followed his two friends to the cabin of their uncle, Charles Kelly, near Redditt, Ontario. Wenjack has inspired several artistic tributes, including the song "Charlie Wenjack" by Mi’kmaq artist Willie Dunn (1978) and the painting Little Charlie Wenjack’s Escape from Residential School by Anishinaabe artist Roy Kakegamic (2008). The $5,000 plaques adorn Legacy Rooms that are now sprouting up across Canada. The principal of the Kenora school remembered Wenjack as a boy with a good sense of humour, particularly adept at noticing wordplay. Maria Krylova believes that totalitarianism derives much of its momentum and longevity from the human psyche itself. But as Robert MacBain points out, church-run residential schools were established decades before Macdonald became Canada’s first prime minister. Wenjack was buried on 27 October 1966. Seeing autopsy marks, Wenjack’s father feared that he had been stabbed. letter that said his children were doing well at Cecilia Jeffrey. But just as the middle class became ascendant, the intellectual left began figuring out how to tear it back down, an impulse that has since spread to virtually every privileged element in society. Author David Solway is not alone in thinking it won’t end until we are reduced to a new serfdom that, though partially masked by the peons’ access to 21st century gadgetry and other technology, will be very similar in social structure and oppressiveness to the Middle Ages. Nindoon. He died as the white world's rules had forced him to live—cut off from his people. I don’t think anybody should ever go through that.”. ran away. But it is not even close to the truth. How Climate, Covid-19 and the Great Reset Are Taking Us Back to the Middle Ages, “Every Store And School Should Be Open.” Confronting The Pandemic With Confidence, An Unwise Union: How Workers Will Suffer From Erin O’Toole’s Embrace of Big Labour, Thirteen Things That Can’t Be Said About Aboriginal Law And Policy In Canada, We Need To Talk: How Remote Learning Is Ruining University Education, Can Canada Handle a Rational, Polite and Fact-Based Debate About Immigration? They were wearing only light cotton clothes when they ran away. Hot. He did not mention anything reported by Adams that might have contradicted his narrative of a sexually abused victim of a residential school, including this quote from Principal Velda MacMillan at the public school he attended: “The thing we remember most about [Chanie] was his sense of humor. Someone hurt him bad. Celebrated Canadian author Joseph Boyden penned a novella on the same subject titled Wenjack. Chanie’s story is factual, it is real. He left his beloved dogs as well, for his little sister Pearl to care for. Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack (born 19 January 1954; died 23 October 1966 near Redditt, ON). During the 1960s, 150 students lived at Cecilia Jeffrey and attended classes at schools in Kenora. The temperature went down to between -1 and -7°C. Less than two months later, Chanie died of exposure while trying to walk back home, more than six hundred kilometres away. A 12-year-old Ojibway boy who died from hunger and exposure after trying to find his way home from a residential school is the inspiration behind a new project from Gord Downie. glass jar with a few matches. He let them sleep on the floor. After first refusing the expense, the Department of Indian Affairs made the travel arrangements. His mouth. This lesson not taught by their own but by others will by morning dissipate with the early frost. According to a letter written by Wasacase to his supervisor in November of 1966, Wenjack’s mother had requested that his body be returned home. Gord Downie began Secret Path as ten poems, incited by the story of Chanie Wenjack, a twelve year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ontario, fifty years ago, walking home to the family he was taken from over 400 miles away. Wenjack died in the early morning of 23 October 1966, one week after he escaped from Cecilia Jeffrey School. Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Anishinaabe boy, ran away from a residential school in northern Ontario 52 years ago. at the cabin, Kelly took his nephews to his trapline. According to Wasacase, Wenjack’s family examined his body at the graveside. He has also inspired the creative works of author According to the TRC report, Principal Wasacase took immediate action when he learned that Chanie was missing. Wasacase, the police and Indian Affairs had attempted unsuccessfully to contact him. Boyden got that much right in an article published in Maclean’s last October to mark the 50th anniversary of Chanie’s death: “None of them had planned this escape on that unseasonably warm autumn afternoon.” But a video scripted by Boyden for Historica Canada, and released the same month, told a very different story. With only a cotton windbreaker and no food, Wenjack covered 19 km on foot. After canvassing other students about where the boy might have gone, “[Wasacase] then travelled to Pine Point and Rabbit Lake in the Kenora area in search of the boy and his companions. Downie also recorded a music album of the same name and an animated version of the story aired on CBC. In October 2016, Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie released The Secret Path, a multimedia project that includes an album, graphic novel (illustrations It meant that in early childhood his chest had been opened. 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