The Tragically Hip Frontman Gord Downie to Release New Solo Album With Graphic Novel and Animated Film

by VVN Music

Earlier this year when Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie announced that he was suffering from terminal brain cancer, nobody thought that there would be such a creative outpouring in the offering.

The group just finished a cross-Canada tour ending with their final concert just a couple of weeks ago and, on Friday, he announced a trio of new projects. All three of his upcoming releases are based on the story of a young First Nation boy, Chanie Wenjack, who died after running away from a state mandated Christian boarding school in 1966.

The story actually goes back much farther. During the 1800's, the Canadian government ruled that 150,000 native aboriginal children must leave their homes and families to attend Christian boarding schools where they would be brought into the language, traditions and norms of Canadian society. Over 130 of these schools opened across the country and, as time went on, it became known that they were a hotbed for both physical and sexual abuse against the students.

In 1966, 12-year-old Chanie ran away from the Cecelia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ontario. He eventually died from hunger and exposure to the elements and started a national movement against the schools and practices along with the stripping of native Canadian's rights.

The final school wasn't closed until 1996 and, in 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued an apology to the country's native peoples.

Downie said "I never knew Chanie, but I will always love him. Chanie haunts me. His story is Canada’s story. This is about Canada. We are not the country we thought we were."

First Nations leaders have expressed their Gratitude to Downie for his work on the project and bringing light to the history.  Chanie's name was trending in social media on Friday after the announcement.

Gord wrote ten poems under the name Secret Path which he eventually turned into ten songs which he actually recorded in late 2013. That album and an accompanying graphic novel will be released on October 18. An animated film based on the project comes to the CBC on October 23. All proceeds will go to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba.

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