The Downie & Wenjack Fund
On October 15th, 1966, Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year old Anishinaabe boy from Ogoki Post, ran away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ontario. Chanie escaped from the school with nine others, all of them desperate to reunite with their families, whom they hadn’t seen in several years. One week later, Chanie’s body was found alone beside the railway tracks. Chanie was just 12 years old. This tragic story is just one of the countless stories of Indigenous children in Canada.
In August of 2016, Gord Downey (The Tragically Hip) 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.
Inspired by Chanie’s story and Gord’s call to build a better Canada, the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund was created. It aims to build cultural understanding and create a path toward reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The goal is to improve the lives of Indigenous people by building awareness, education, and connections between all Canadians. One program in which to do so is the Legacy School Program. It’s a national initiative to engage, empower and connect students and educators to further reconciliation through awareness, education and action (#reconciliACTION).
What we are doing at Park Street Education
At Park Street, our team is committed to the work of Truth and Reconciliation. While our work began last year, we are pleased to further our commitment and announce that Park Street is joining The Downie Wenjack Legacy Schools Program. In doing so, we commit to advancing our understanding of the Indigenous experience and taking #reconciliACTION.
On September 30th, we are also honoured to be participating in the virtual event for Truth and Reconciliation hosted by The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. Our students will join 500,000 students across Canada to hear Phyllis Webstad’s story. This is just the beginning of our engagement with Indigenous voices, stories, and history. We recognize that without truth, there cannot be reconciliation and we are committed to this work.