When Mike Downie first heard the story of Chanie Wenjack—an Ojibway boy who died while running away from his residential school—it was like an arrow shot through his heart. Haunted, he shared the story with his brother, celebrated musician Gord Downie, and the two vowed to find a way to tell it to the world. The result was their multi-media project Secret Path, consisting of a music album and a graphic novel and film (with artist Jeff Lemire), that has captured the hearts and minds of Canadians. Using Chanie’s story as a starting point, Mike helps audiences understand Canada’s troubling legacy of residential schools, to explore how to reconcile with the past and bring healing as individuals and as a nation.
Mike stopped by the Speakers’ Spotlight office recently to talk about the three ways he believes that Chanie’s story can transform us on both a personal and national level. Watch above.