It’s a roster that would make any label giddy, and it’s all in the name of the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) and reconciliation.
The singers for this year’s Secret Path Live concert have been announced, and it’s a touching and powerful list: Sam Roberts, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Tanya Tagaq, July Talk, William Prince, Whitehorse and Tom Wilson.
They’re all coming together for a very special evening on October 19 at Roy Thomson Hall to perform Gord Downie’s “Secret Path” album, along with the band that performed the album in full three years ago: Kevin Hearn from Barenaked Ladies, Kevin Drew from Broken Social Scene, Josh Finlayson of Skydiggers, Dave Hamelin of The Stills and Charles Spearing from Do Make Say Think.
Secret Path tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Anishinaabe boy born in Ogoki Post on the Marten Falls Reserve. In 1963, at the age of 9, Chanie was sent to the Cecelia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ontario. Three years later, Chanie ran away from the school, attempting to reunite with his family 600 kilometers away in Ogoki Post. Chanie’s body was found beside the railroad tracks on October 22, 1966, a week after he fled. He succumbed to starvation and exposure.
The Downie Wenjack Fund, created around the same time as Secret Path’s release in October 2016, promises special, surprise guests will also be involved during the evening, which takes place during Secret Path Week.
“The Secret Path project was incredibly important to Gord. His passion and tenacity to help tell Chanie’s story never wavered and our hope is that it will continue to inspire Canadians to get involved and support this country on the path towards reconciliation for years to come,” says Mike Downie, co-founder and DWF board member. “This night is one small example of what my brother Gord dreamed of for this country – Indigenous and non-Indigenous coming together to create a more complete, inclusive and equitable country.”
Roy Thomson Hall has around 2,600 seats, meaning this will be an intimate performance for those who attend. Prices range from $75 CAD for balcony seating to $500 for a seat up close to the stage, but some tickets offer a special bonus: Each ticket sold for $500 will also provide a seat for an Indigenous youth or DWF Legacy School student who would otherwise not afford to attend the show.
Tickets at the $150, $175, $250 and $500 level are also eligible for charitable tax receipts.
This is going to be a very powerful night that won’t soon be forgotten.