Reflecting on Secret Path Week 2022

After another successful Secret Path Week, we would like to thank all of those who joined us in honouring Chanie and Gord’s legacy by participating in a Walk for Wenjack, joining us for DWF LIVE, and taking reconciliACTION by learning about the history and ongoing impact of residential schools. After such a busy week, there is plenty to reflect on. Check out our recap of Secret Path Week 2022 as well as an update from our Legacy Spaces program below!

Legacy Spaces Updates

Over the past few months, we have celebrated the launch of ten new Legacy Spaces with our partners. There are now 44 unique Legacy Spaces in 34 different cities, with more to come! From the first Legacy Spaces in Markham, ON, Quebec, and a manufacturing setting, to a performing arts centre, and offices throughout southern Ontario, DWF was proud to join these partners in launching their spaces. You can read about each unique space here.

Honour Chanie’s Legacy this Secret Path Week

Chanie Wenjack was an Anishinaabe boy from Marten Falls First Nation. In 1963, at the age of nine, he was sent to Cecilia Jeffrey Residential School in Kenora, Ontario. Three years later, he ran away trying to reunite with his family who was 600 kilometres away. On October 22, 1966, a week after he fled, Chanie joined the spirit world. His body was found by the railway tracks, and his death sparked the first inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children at residential schools. Now, every year, we honour Chanie’s legacy by marking this as the last day of Secret Path Week.

Honour Gord’s Legacy this Secret Path Week

In August of 2016, Gord Downie asked all people in Canada to look at the state of Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations in this country and to “Do Something” to change them for the better. In December of 2016, he was given the Lakota Spirit Name, Wicapi Omani, which can be translated as “Man who walks among the stars” for his reconciliACTIONs. Gord passed on October 17, 2017, and now every year, we honour Gord’s legacy by marking this as the first day of Secret Path Week.

Special Edition: Secret Path Week 2022

From all of us at DWF, we would like to thank everyone who tuned in for our National Day for Truth and Reconciliation events on September 30! Both A DAY TO LISTEN 2022 and our panel discussion attracted record audiences and we can’t thank you enough for your support. September 30 may have passed but there is still lots to do to move reconciliation forward. DWF has several events planned for Secret Path Week and beyond, so please continue to stay involved and help keep the momentum going!

Truth and Action: Recognizing September 30th

September 30th marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day. Since the day’s inception in 2013, it has become an important and effective way of encouraging people throughout Canada to think about their role in reconciliation.

September 30th Programming & Getting Ready for Fall!

Fall is just around the corner, which means DWF will be bringing you tons of events and new programming! On September 30th, we’re hosting a panel discussion for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and airing new interviews for A DAY TO LISTEN 2022, which will take over radio stations throughout Canada. We also have lots of great programming for Legacy Schools. Legacy Schools can expect to receive their toolkits and booster kits soon – they’re being shipped this week! We are excited to bring you all of this and more. Check out the details below! 

Legacy Schools: Back to School with DWF!

Welcome Back!

We’ve got lots of great programming coming your way this fall for Legacy Schools! Toolkits are being assembled and will be shipped the week of Sept. 6, 2022, following Labour Day. On September 30th, we’re hosting another panel discussion for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and bringing back A DAY TO LISTEN, which will take over radio stations throughout Canada for a full day of programming! After an amazing summer with over 80 new Youth Ambassadors taking part in our programming in July and August, we are excited to get back to school to bring you even more events!

Upcoming Webinars

Planning Your Walk for Wenjack Webinar

This session will cover:

  • What is Walk for Wenjack?
  • Examples of Walks from Legacy Schools and Legacy Spaces
  • How to register as a team or individual on our NEW webpage
  • Resources available

Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022 @ 3:30 pm EST


Unpacking Your Legacy Schools Toolkit

So, you’ve signed up for the Legacy Schools program. Now what?

In this session, DWF staff will provide examples of how educators throughout the country known as Canada use the Legacy Schools toolkit with youth in clubs and classrooms. We’ll share our updated resources and ideas on how schools, groups, and clubs use the toolkits to create positive change and reconciliACTIONs in their own communities.

Participants will:

  • Find out how to utilize the resources in the Legacy Schools toolkit/booster
  • Learn about the resources available through our website for all different curriculum areas and ages
  • See examples from other schools/groups/clubs
  • Ask questions about Legacy Schools and organize your own reconciliACTIONs

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022 @ 3:30 pm EST


National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: Indigenous Perspectives on the Pope’s Apology

The papal visit in July 2022 resulted in mixed emotions for many Indigenous Peoples throughout the country. Join us on September 30th at 1:00 pm EST to hear directly from those who were involved in and affected by the Pope’s visit. Learn more about what the apology means to those impacted by residential schools, its effects on reconciliation, and how this will shape Indigenous communities and intergenerational relationships across Turtle Island. Mark your calendars. More details to come!

If you have any questions about the impact of residential schools, reconciliation, what the Pope’s apology means, and more, please send them to us when you register for this event.



In recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th, DWF will be airing A DAY TO LISTEN 2022 on numerous radio stations throughout the country.

This year, we are highlighting the voices and stories of Indigenous people around the theme of Messages of Hope. This will centre on four areas:

  • Cultural Reclamation
  • Language Resurgence
  • Art Practice
  • Land-based Learning Narratives

As we continue to move forward on the path toward reconciliation, we aim to inspire hope for future generations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more information!



Youth Ambassadors’ Summer Fun

Youth Ambassadors learned about the two row wampum as they tried their hand at beading with Lindsay Lickers. All Youth Ambassadors received a free YA Toolkit with all the items they needed to participate in the sessions – this year they even got a yoga mat for Shayla Stonechild’s yoga and meditation sessions!

Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth between the ages of 16-25 came together this summer to develop their 21st century and leadership skills while building their understanding of what reconciliation is to them through various training sessions and hands-on workshops.

A big thank you to all the great guest speakers who made this year’s session so special:

Shayla Stonechild

Shayla Stonechild – Creating Space for Indigenous Voices
@shayla0h on Instagram

Ecko Aleck

Sacred Matriarch Productions
@sacredmatriarch on Instagram

Lindsay Lickers – First Nations Artist
@mushkiiki_water on Instagram

Destiney Hootsie and Kelsey Coutts

Bangin’ Bannock

Teri (Deyowidron’t) Morrow

Revitalizing our Sustenance Project

Check out the Youth Ambassadors ReconciliACTION video

DWF is incredibly grateful for the generous support of RBC Foundation, in support of RBC Future Launch, for making this program possible.


Upcoming DWF LIVE & Events

Each month, Indigenous artists and leaders join Legacy Schools classrooms and youth groups for live performances, storytelling, and more as we continue to explore how we can all move reconciliation forward through awareness, education, and action. Sign your Legacy School group up for free to engage youth each month.

DWF LIVE sessions will begin during Secret Path Week (Oct. 17-22), which marks the anniversary of Gord and Chanie’s passing respectively. We will be providing 15 DWF LIVE sessions that week – so stay tuned for registration information!

Upcoming Events

David Robertson will host a DWF LIVE session for Secret Path Week to talk about reconciliation and his book On the Trapline. David Robertson is the author of On the Trapline, a beautiful picture book included in this year’s Legacy Schools Booster Toolkit, which will be arriving at schools in September. The book celebrates Indigenous culture and traditions. The Governor General Award-winning team behind When We Were Alone shares a story that honours our connections to our past and future generations. On The , illustrated by Julie Flett, won David’s second Governor General’s Literary Award and was named one of the best picture books of 2021 by the CCBC, The Horn Book, New York Public Library, Quill & Quire, and American Indians in Children’s Literature.

David is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and the McNally Robinson Best Book for Young People Award. His memoir, Black Water: Family, Legacy, and Blood Memory, was a Globe and Mail and Quill & Quire book of the year in 2020 and won the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction as well as the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award at the 2020 Manitoba Book Awards. Dave is the writer and host of the podcast Kíwew, winner of the 2021 RTDNA Praire Region Award for Best Podcast. He is a member of Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.

We are planning over 15 DWF LIVE sessions for Secret Path Week. Watch our DWF LIVE page for your chance to sign up for these great free live sessions.



Films for Legacy Schools during Secret Path Week

RETURNING HOME tells the narrative of residential school survivors and Indigenous peoples’ relationship with imperilled wild Pacific salmon.

Once again, Docs For Schools is pleased to partner with Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund for Secret Path Week.

The Secret Path Week program features films about Indigenous stories and issues. Teachers will be able to book these films starting on September 15th, and films will be made available for an in-class, online screening from October 3rd – October 24th, 2022.

For more information, visit: Secret Path Week | Hot Docs

D: Michelle St. John | Canada | 2016 | 49 min
Recommended for grades 7-12
Ryan McMahon travels across Ontario speaking to Indigenous and settler lawyers, historians,  researchers and policymakers who provide history, context and solutions surrounding the interconnected roadways built by the colonial government to bring settlers across the country, connect them with resources to create industry, and create a nation.

D: Sean Stiller | Canada | 2022 | 72 mins
Recommended for grades 7-12, contains sensitive content
Intertwining narratives of residential school survivors, including Orange Shirt Day founder Phyllis Jack-Webstad, and Indigenous peoples’ relationship with imperiled wild Pacific salmon in Secwépemc territory, this testament to resilience reveals how healing people and healing the natural world are synonymous.

D: Chrisann Hessing | Canada | 2017 | 16 mins
Pow wow techno pioneer Joshua DePerry, a.k.a. Classic Roots, uniquely integrates the sounds of his Anishinaabe heritage with electronic and house music. Redefining what it means to be urban and Indigenous, he’s preparing to start the next chapter of his life as an artist and educator in the world’s techno capital: Berlin.

Updated Resources

An example page from the new Legacy Schools 2022/2023 calendar.

All of our Legacy Schools resources have been updated for the new school year. With over 800 links to valuable educational resources, there’s something for every class.

The new Legacy Schools toolkit materials are also online, including a new calendar with Indigenous days of significance highlighted. For a sneak peek, visit our Virtual Legacy Schools Toolkit.



Send us your ReconciliACTIONS

We love seeing and sharing what Legacy Schools are doing all the time! Send us your reconciliACTIONs for a chance to be featured in our ReconciliACTION Guidebook, in next year’s Legacy School materials and in other DWF communications!


Share your reconciliACTIONS on social media! We love seeing the change you’re making – and so does the DWF community! Share your photos and tag us on social media @downiewenjack and we’ll try our best to share with our networks.

Apologies, Letters, and More: A Catch-up with DWF

Between the many headlines surrounding the Pope’s visit and the opening of new Legacy Spaces, there is plenty of news to catch up on. Check out all that DWF has been up to as well as some Indigenous perspectives on recent events below.

In the News

Pope Francis’ recent visit to Canada and apology to Indigenous communities have garnered significant attention. During this complex and emotional time, it is vital that we center Indigenous perspectives and experiences as we reflect on the visit. Here are a few pieces to help kick off your reading:

A Post-Apology ‘To Do’ List, Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, The Tyee, July 26, 2022

I survived the ’60s Scoop. Here’s why the Pope’s apology isn’t an apology at all, Lori Campbell, Associate Vice President, Indigenous Engagement, University of Regina, The Conversation, July 26, 2022

A ‘Walk Together’ or an ‘Erasure Tour’?, Erin Blondeau, Métis mother from Red River Settlement, The Tyee, July 25, 2022

‘Sorry’ isn’t enough, NTI president says of Pope’s apology, Aluki Kotierk, President of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Nunantsiaq News, July 26, 2022

Pope’s apology doesn’t acknowledge church’s role as ‘co-author’ of dark chapter: Murray Sinclair, Rachel Bergen, CBC News, July 26, 2022

How the Vatican encouraged the colonization of Indigenous lands – and enabled the Crown to keep them, Patrick White, The Globe and Mail, July 22, 2022

The last week has been challenging for many Survivors, families and those impacted by the effects of residential schools. Please know that support is available by calling the 24-hour national Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.

Letters to the Wenjacks

Legacy School students who attended DWF’s National Indigenous Peoples Day event in Toronto wrote letters to the Wenjack sisters after hearing them speak and meeting with them.

Throughout the year, we encourage Legacy Schools to write to the Wenjacks to share their experiences and understanding of Chanie’s story and the Secret Path. Chanie’s sister, Pearl, does her best to respond to all the letters that are sent, and is working on documenting her memories of Chanie to share with our Legacy Schools.

Here are some excerpts from the letters:

“It was terrible what happened to Chanie and so many others.” – Kate

“Thank you for sharing your story. I know it must have been hard to speak about it, which makes me appreciate it even more. It was very enlightening and meaningful to me. I hope you keep raising awareness for everyone. I wish you all the best.” – Lauren

Philip Cote’s Ojibway Dreamer

Three generations of Wenjacks are joined by Gord’s brother, Patrick Downie, in a visit to the public Legacy Space inside the Scotiabank branch at 392 Bay Street in Toronto. The Legacy Space features Philip Cote’s mural entitled, ‘Ojibway Dreamer’, which is a tribute to Chanie Wenjack.

Kyra Visitor is Chanie Wenjack’s great-niece. At 12 years old, she is the same age that Chanie was when he started his journey home from residential school. In June, Kyra travelled with her mom, Harriet Visitor, her Kokum Daisy Monroe, and two more of Chanie’s sisters, Evelyn Baxter and Pearl Achneepineskum, to visit the public Legacy Space inside the Scotiabank branch located at 392 Bay Street in Toronto.

Inside the Legacy Space, DWF Artist Ambassador Philip Cote created a large-scale mural of Chanie and the Seven Fires Prophecy. The painting shows Chanie’s role in becoming part of the Eighth Fire. Philip Cote explains that Chanie’s role is in the “healing needed to help bring heart thinking, and how we all must leave a legacy for future generations” (Indigenous Toronto, 2021).

Philip shares more about this painting in the new book, Indigenous Toronto. Elaine Bomberry, the Coordinator of DWF’s Artist Ambassador program, is also featured in the book with a touching story about how her parents met on a streetcar in Toronto!

Legacy Spaces Updates

The first Manulife Legacy Space features a unique mural collaboration between two DWF Artist Ambassadors.

On June 29th, Manulife launched their first Legacy Space inside their Waterloo office. The event featured members of their Employee Resource Group called “Indigenous Peoples and Their Allies”, food from Pow Wow Cafe, and words from DWF President & CEO, Sarah Midanik. The Legacy Space features a unique mural collaboration between DWF Artist Ambassadors Patrick Hunter and Blake Angeconeb. They plan to open a Toronto Legacy Space later this year!

Learn more about the Legacy Spaces program

Another Indigenous History Month for the Books!

From celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day and Indigenous History Month, to unveiling new Legacy Spaces and hosting Legacy School visits with the Wenjacks — June was an incredible, jam-packed month! Check out everything we got up to below!

National Indigenous Peoples Day

Students gathered at Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto for a day of education and celebration in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day. Theland Kicknosway opened the event with a special teaching and hoop dance performance. Photo by Tom Pandi.

On June 21st, 2022, DWF proudly partnered with Scotiabank and Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment (MLSE) for a special one-day event to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Over 1,000 students gathered at Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto, and thousands more joined virtually, to hear from Indigenous Elders, performers, speakers and artists, who showcased their work, stories, and knowledge. Students had the honour of hearing from the Wenjack and Downie families about how we can continue to move reconciliation forward in our lives and communities.

Pearl (Wenjack) Achneepineskum, Chanie Wenjack’s sister, shared important reflections on reconciliation alongside the Wenjack and Downie families. Photo by Aaron Critchley.

After the concert, students visited a series of learning stations around the concourse of the arena and participated in meaningful discussions on Indigenous knowledge, language, and culture.

Dashmaawaan Bemaadzinjin
 (They Feed the People) taught students about the history of Indigenous foods and their relationship to colonization at this learning station, where students also enjoyed tasty Bannock bites! Photo by Tom Pandi.

Visit our website today to watch the concert, learn more about the learning stations, and enjoy photos from the day!

Thank You to Our Generous Partners 

Indigenous History Month 2022

This Indigenous History Month, we learned about different Indigenous languages, sacred herbs and medicines from the land, traditional songs, Indigenous inventions, and more! Our episodes featured teachings and performances from the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick, ending with a special Canada-wide episode that highlighted the beauty of these three regions.

From all of us at DWF, thank you for joining us for Indigenous History Month 2022 and making it one of our biggest celebrations to date! In case you missed any of this year’s programming, you can view all four episodes any time over on our YouTube channel or on our website.



Legacy Schools Celebrations

Chanie Wenjack’s sisters Pearl, Daisy, and Evelyn visited Harriet Tubman Public School in the District School Board of Niagara, Ontario. Students participated in a Water Walk around the schools and the Wenjacks were able to learn and share in this important initiative.

June was a busy month for Legacy Schools! We announced the winners of our poster contest, and celebrated First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultures by hosting 20 virtual art workshops at schools in different provinces and territories. We also hosted five in-person Legacy Schools visits with Artist Ambassadors and the Wenjack sisters.

Wenjack sisters shared with students at Crossroads Public School in the District School Board of Niagara, Ontario.

Legacy Spaces Update

Sarah Midanik, Tristen Durocher, Bob Watts, and Patrick Downie attended the launch of two Legacy Spaces at The Bay and Hudson’s Bay head offices. One of the Legacy Spaces features a painting by DWF Artist Ambassador Blake Angeconeb.

In June, the Hudson’s Bay Foundation unveiled two Legacy Spaces at The Bay and Hudson’s Bay head offices in Toronto. The Legacy Spaces feature an interactive experience where visitors can watch or listen to the Secret Path animated film and documentary, view the art pieces on display, access educational materials, and sit for contemplation.

One of the Legacy Spaces also features a poignant piece from DWF Artist Ambassador Blake Angeconeb. In his words, “The painting shows five figures and various animals. The snake represents the dark history of colonialism and residential schools. It is positioned to be at the back to represent the past as the spirits and animals move forward together. This will help acknowledge the horrendous history but also put light on what’s important and that’s working together to move forward.”

Learn more about the Legacy Spaces program