WINNIPEG, MB: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, on behalf of the Executive Council, has issued the following statement as Gord Downie has once again been named the Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year:
“My dear friend Gord made history last year as the first entertainer to be selected Newsmaker of the Year, and we are pleased that he is once again honoured. Gord lit a fire with his Secret Path project, and dedicated his final years to bring the truth about Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack and the Indian Residential School experience to a national audience. His heartfelt call to action has resonated from coast to coast, and we honour Gord and his family for their commitment to guide us along the path to reconciliation. Gord and Chanie’s lives were very different, but they are now forever entwined. It is up to us to honour their legacies by completing the journey they so bravely began.”
Twelve-year-old Chanie died on October 22, 1966 after fleeing Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in northwestern Ontario. His body was found along railroad tracks after attempting a 1,000-kilometre journey on foot to his home in Ogoki Post.
Downie renewed interest in Chanie’s story by commemorating the 50th anniversary of his death with the “Secret Path” multimedia project.
The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund was launched in 2016 to support reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples.
Downie was honoured with the Lakota spirit name “Wicapi Omani” or “He Who Walks Amongst the Stars” by the Assembly of First Nations last December.