Chanie was born January 19, 1954. He died October 22, 1966, near Redditt, Ontario. An Anishinaabe boy, at age 12, he ran away from his residential school and subsequently died from hunger and exposure to the weather. All Chanie wanted was to go home, which was over 600 km away in Ogoki Post on the Marten Falls First Nation reserve. His death sparked national attention and the first inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children in Canadian residential schools.
For over 150 years, residential schools operated in Canada. Over 150,000 children attended these schools. Often underfunded and overcrowded, they were used as a tool of assimilation by the Canadian state and churches. Thousands of students suffered physical, mental, and sexual abuse. All suffered from loneliness and a longing to be home with their families. The trauma inflicted by these schools continue to this day.
Inspired by the "Secret Path" story and Gord Downie's humility, sincerity, and determination to tell the story of all youths from the residential school era who never made it home, we’ve organized an annual experience called Walk For Wenjack to honour Chanie Wenjack and the thousands like him who never made it home.
"I swore that I would do something the day he died. I would not have my brother's death swept under a rug. If Chanie's life can save other children than I've done my work."