Our Journey

 

Mark Cooney, Terri Manko, Chief Stacey Laforme, Patrick Downie, Stacey Dion and Rob Ferreira

 

On May 24, 2016, a generation of Canadians learned that The Tragically Hip frontman, Gord Downie, had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, that it was inoperable, and that it would come back to claim him. When the band broke the news to the nation, they did so like the working class heroes they are, tempering the shock with hope: there would be a Canadian tour and a chance, perhaps a last chance, for fans to feel the magic of his lyrics, and his bandmates' instruments, together.

Words of sorrow and support - from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, fellow artists, and the band's legion of fans - followed suit. And in cities across Canada, devout Tragically Hip fans joined forces to organize concert-day celebrations and various fundraising campaigns. Passionate fans came together to rally behind the band to show their appreciation for Gord's courage in the face of adversity. 

In 2016, the Courage For Gord Foundation was created followed by Walk for Wenjack and then Familyband Benefit Concerts in 2018, with support and endorsement from the following organizations: 

  • The Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
  • The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF)
  • The Gord Downie Secret Path Fund for Truth and Reconciliation at The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR)
Many fundraising events and campaigns were coordinated and $257,555.89 has been raised for Gord's Funds to date.

    ...but we needed to do more. Gord asked all Canadians to look at the state of Indigenous-settler relations in this country and to "Do Something" to change them for the better. Gord has dedicated his legacy to creating lasting, positive change in Canada; and we are committed to making Gord proud as he begins his new journey. Inspired by the "Secret Path" 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, we’ve organized an annual experience called Walk For Wenjack to honour Chanie Wenjack and the thousands like him who never made it home.

    "It's going to take us 100 years to figure out what the hell went on up there but it isn't cool, and everybody knows that. It's really, really bad. But we're going to figure it out. You're going to figure it out.” - Gord Downie in Kingston, ON, August 20, 2016

    The first Walk For Wenjack set out on November 20, 2016, and retraced the steps of Chanie Wenjack. It started at the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ontario, and continued to Redditt for a ceremony representing Chanie's final resting spot near Farlane, Ontario. The next walk gathered on October 21, 2018, during Secret Path Week at Evergreen Brick Works and the Don Valley Trail System in Toronto. It was a full-day event and an experience that touched the hearts of many. Since then, we have hosted other events in Toronto while supporting the DWF Legacy Schools program.

    This year due to Covid-19, we along with The DWF are challenging all Canadians to "Do Something", as Gord Downie would say, and participate in your own local Walk for Wenjack. We encourage you to walk for Chanie Wenjack and his family on October 22, the day Chanie succumbed to the elements as he was trying to get home. Alternatively, walks can be organized on other dates during Secret Path Week (Oct. 17-22). Look for more details here: Secret Path Week

    We have also enabled an easy online platform for donations and/or to register as Individual or as a Team (group, community or school). Details can be found here. Walk For Wenjack

    For more information on these walks, please visit walkforwenjack.ca or @walkforwenjack on Facebook and Instagram.

    The Walk For Wenjack Team

    "Love you guys! An army of virtuous believers spreading the seeds of Reconciliation and national progress - with excellent taste in music."

    - Mike Downie

    #walkforwenjack #truth #hope #reconciliACTION #DoSomething