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Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire collaborate on new work dedicated to 12-year-old Ojibway boy

secret-pathTragically Hip frontman Gord Downie has announced a new philanthropic project, just weeks after the live broadcast of the band’s final show on CBC attracted more than 11.7 million viewers.

Secret Path is a 10-song album dedicated to the life of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Ojibway boy who died in 1966 after running away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School. Set to be released Oct. 18, the album will be accompanied by a graphic novel illustrated by Toronto-based cartoonist Jeff Lemire, and published by Simon & Schuster Canada. An animated film is set to air on CBC Television on Oct. 23.

On Sept. 8, Downie released a statement on the project’s website: “Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids – more than anyone will be able to imagine – he tried. 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…”

Proceeds from Secret Path will be donated to the Gord Downie Secret Path Fund for Truth and Reconciliation, which is administered by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. The funds will assist identifying children who died at the schools and were buried in unmarked graves, and to help preserve their stories.