Co-Creator, Secret Path | Documentary Filmmaker
When Mike Downie first heard the story of Chanie “Charlie” 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 (by Jeff Lemire), and an animated film that has captured the hearts and minds of Canadians. Using Chanie’s story as a starting point, Mike leads the audience along the journey that he and Gord travelled as they developed Secret Path with the Wenjack family. Mike asks all Canadians to follow his brother’s lead, and imagine a more inclusive and equitable country — a new country, a new Canada.
A celebrated storyteller, Mike is writer, director, and producer of numerous documentaries. He recently won a Canadian Screen Award, and the Allan King Award for Documentary Excellence for Secret Path. He is also a CSA winner for Best Science Documentary for Invasion of the Brain Snatchers. He received a Gemini Award for Best Direction, and a nomination for the Allan King Award for his film, One Ocean. He also won a Gemini Award for his film, The Hockey Nomad.
Mike is co-founder of the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund, part of the movement to jumpstart reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
Before his career in film and television, Mike worked as a deep shaft miner in Northern Ontario; a medical researcher at McGill University; a junior economist in Toronto; and as a windsurfing instructor in the US Virgin Islands. He holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours from Queen’s University, and an MBA from York University’s Schulich School of Business.