By Will McGuirk
By the good grace of a friend I was at the first Secret Path show at the Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto. A moving affair given the storyline and the chap involved. After the trial of a final Hip tour one expected that would be it for Gord Downie as a public figure. But he launched another project; the album, shows, video, book to tell the story of Chanie Wenjack and the curse of residential schools for indigenous youth across Canada. The schools, rank with abuses, ran for decades, even as many young people ran from them, some to perish trying to make it back to their home. Chanie was one of those many children. Secret Path was Downie’s telling of the boy’s tale.
Downie made that real in so beautiful a manner at the end of the RTH show I attended I wept, the whole room wept. And I made a vow based on how lucky I was to be there that I would continue in whatever fashion available to me to continue to share the stories of First Nations and Canada’s absolute need to reconcile these historic wrongs.
On October 19, 2019, ‘Secret Path Live’ returns to the RTH stage. Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sam Roberts, Tanya Tagaq, July Talk, William Prince, Whitehorse, and Tom Wilson and the Secret Path band ( Kevin Hearn (Barenaked Ladies), Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene), Josh Finlayson (Skydiggers), Dave Hamelin (The Stills), and Charles Spearin (Do Make Say Think) will perform the album once again.
The show will take place during Secret Path Week, Oct 17 (the anniversary of Downie’s death) to Oct 22 ( the day twelve year old Chanie died in 1966). The Week is a national movement calling on all Canadians to answer Downie’s call to “Do Something” to forward reconciliation.
Mike Downie, co-founder and DWF board member says in a press release, “The Secret Path project was incredibly important to Gord. His passion and tenacity to help tell Chanie’s story never wavered and our hope is that it will continue to inspire Canadians to get involved and support this country on the path towards reconciliation for years to come. This night is one small example of what my brother Gord dreamed of for this country - Indigenous and non-Indigenous coming together to create a more complete, inclusive and equitable country.”
Answer the call, do something. Eleven million people watched Downie and the Hip perform that last show in Kingston. Eleven million people can do a lot of somethings.