Gord Downie is my Elvis, my Lennon, my Sinatra. I’ve loved and followed him for decades, musically. Like every Canadian – I was shaken on May 24th, 2016 when The Tragically Hip management team took to social media, and then the press podium, to announce their beloved frontman was battling incurable and aggressive brain cancer. (I happened to be sitting on a train between Alicante and Madrid in Spain…..in shock, as the news broke on Twitter. Where were you when you heard?)
Tens of thousands of us made a point of attending the final “Man Machine Poem” tour stops. We collectively held our hands in the air to say “farewell, my friend” at the final bow on August 20th, 2016.
Today we learn that while it was the end of Live Hip Concerts — it’s not the end of Gord using his art to educate Canadians — we are being given a history lesson, one that many might prefer be swept under the rug.
There is a new multimedia project coming called “Secret Path”.
Think of all of the Canadian History this man has taught our nation via song.
When we learned of the last goal Bill Barilko scored, in overtime, to win The Leafs The Cup (in 1951 — before disappearing….”on a fishing trip….in a plane…”) The anthem that is “50 Mission Cap”.
Of course there’s the tale of how a man spent 20 years “for nothing, well that’s nothing new, besides … no one’s interested in something you didn’t do.” Gord brought us David Milgaard’s story of innocence incarcerated in “Wheat Kings”.
Now comes a story meant to preserve the memory of our failure, as a country, to protect indigenous children and their families in times of struggle with “Secret Path”.
I borrow this quote from The Globe and Mail (*see link below for full article) who spoke with Gord Downie, “I never knew Chanie, the child his teachers misnamed Charlie, 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”.
The story of Chanie is that of a 12 year old who died while attempting to flea one of this country’s “Indian residential schools” in 1966. It is a devastating story — and one that will be told by this incredible wordsmith by way of both a solo album and graphic novel.
All proceeds from the new album and book will be used to help the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation identify some of the children who died at the schools…..buried in unmarked graves, honour them and return them to their communities.
Talk about using your voice for the greater good. We’ve always know you to be a creative treasure to Canadians, now we know that you are a champion for those who need you most. #InGordWeTrust