This is the most important album of 2016. Gord Downie’s liner notes best explain why.
Chanie Wenjack (misnamed Charlie by his teachers) was a young boy who died on Oct 22, 1966. He was trying to walk home, along the railroad tracks, trying to escape the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where his home was, nor know how to find it. Like so many kids from residential schools – more than anyone will be able to imagine – he tried. I never knew Chanie. I will always love him.
Chanie Wenjack haunts me. His story is Canada’s story. We are not the country we think we are. History will be re-written. All of the Residential Schools will be pulled apart and studied. The next hundred years are going to be painful and unsettling as we meet Chanie Wenjack and thousands like him – as we find out about ourselves, about all of us – and when we do, we can truly call ourselves ‘Canada’.
This is for Chanie Wenjack, for his family, for the thousands of families still trying to work their way through this – today.