The most powerful stories are true stories. Gord Downie's Secet Path follows the story of a young Indigenous boy, Chanie (Charlie) Wenjack, who died trying to escape the Cecilia Residential School near Kenora, ON. Charlie fled the school in hope of returning home 400 miles away. He never made it.
For over 150 years, residential schools operated in Canada. Over 150,000 children attended these schools. Many never returned. Often underfunded and overcrowded, these schools were used as a tool of assimilation by the Canadian state and churches. Thousands of students suffered physical and sexual abuse. All suffered from loneliness and a longing to be home with their families. The damages inflicted by these schools continue to this day. In 2009, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada began a multi-year process to listen to Survivors, communities and others affected by the Residential School system. The resulting collection of statements, documents and other materials now forms the heart of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
Inspired by this story and Gord's humility, sincerity, and determination to tell the story of all youths from the residential school era who never made it home, Leanne Mackle created this one-of-a kind piece, called "Isolation", including an abstract Ojibwe Thunderbird to highlight the isolation that exists in our northern Aboriginal communities.
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