Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Something everyone needs to see

It's a low-ceilinged grey day, not quite as cold as the day that killed 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack. He was taken from his family in Northern Ontario to a residential school in Kenora. Imagine what that would be like -- to leave your family, your culture and your language, everything and everyone you know and love because you must be educated. It's still happening here in Canada, not in residential schools any more, but many of our young Aboriginal brothers and sisters must travel to larger centres away from their homes to complete their education.

Chanie Wenjack ran away from school and tried to walk the 600 km home to Ogoki Post through a miserable autumn storm, wearing nothing but a light jacket. His story has recently been retold by two Canadian artists -- Jeff Lemire is an accomplished graphic novelist, and Gord Downie is the lead singer of the Tragically Hip. Gord has terminal cancer, so you could say that this work is a very special project.

The Secret Path tells the story of Chanie Wenjack's attempt to walk home. Jeff Lemire's graphics evoke the cold faced by the child, his thoughts, memories, and deep desire to get home. Gord Downie's music provides the only words to the story. I'm not a fan of the Tragically Hip, but I found the songs deeply moving, a fitting soundtrack to the loneliness and desolation faced by a twelve-year-old on an impossible, body- and soul-chilling journey. Chanie died on October 22, 1966, and this program aired 50 years and one day later as part of Gord Downie's effort to help the healing and reconciliation process begun by our country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The legacy of Canadian Residential Schools has done deep damage to our relationships with our Aboriginal brothers and sisters, and healing won't happen until we face the facts and ask forgiveness.

It's a slow-moving film, but definitely one worth watching. For more information about the project, visit the website: http://secretpath.ca/

No comments:

Post a Comment

Take a minute and tell me what you think...