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Updates from the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund, focusing on the Legacy Spaces, Legacy Schools, The Secret Path and all the community-based events, fundraising and reconciliACTIONs going on across Canada from coast to coast to coast.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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!
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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!
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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.
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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!
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What an amazing year for our Legacy Schools program! Through your support, students expanded their knowledge and learned new ways of moving reconciliation forward. Our art workshops for National Indigenous History Month continue, the poster challenge winners have been announced, and we even managed to sneak in one more in-person Artist Ambassador visit before the summer break! Take a look at how we are wrapping up the 2021 – 2022 school year below!
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Indigenous History Month is finally upon us! We hope you will join us in celebrating the rich history, resiliency, and diversity of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples throughout Canada. For more information, check out all the details below!
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This week marks one year since people throughout Canada and the world learned of the recovery of the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. The past year has been a significant one for many reasons. During this time, we experienced profound grief as communities began the process of investigating the grounds of former residential schools. These processes have led to the identification of thousands of confirmed or suspected unmarked graves. Through this grief, however, we have also seen action from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people working to appropriately address the legacy of harm. Canada has changed—it can never be the same.
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June is Indigenous History Month and we’ve got a ton of exciting events happening online and in-person all month long! Our DWF art workshops have been awarded and will be taking place virtually; meanwhile, in Toronto, there will be an in-person event for Legacy Schools at Scotiabank Arena! Finally, with the end of the school year fast approaching, we would love it if you could let us know how we are doing through our year-end survey. Your feedback helps inform our work and we greatly appreciate your opinion!
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Spring has sprung for DWF, which means our Legacy Schools Poster Challenge is back, and Indigenous History Month is just around the corner. Take a look below for more information and an exciting update on our Legacy Spaces Program! With so many exciting upcoming events, you won’t want to miss out! Subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay connected and receive updates on our virtual events and video content.
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Thank you to those who applied to the Youth Ambassador program and for a free virtual art workshop – we had over 150 applicants for 20 spots! We will be in touch with selected applicants soon. As well, our Spring Poster Challenge is still open, we can’t wait to see what reconciliACTION means to youth, their family, and community! For details on this and more, check out all the exciting things we are getting up to below.
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As summer approaches, we are gearing up for some exciting events you won’t want to miss out on! The deadline for applications for our Legacy Schools virtual art workshops as well as our Youth Ambassador Program are fast approaching so be sure to submit yours today! Also, don’t forget to check out our latest Legacy Space partner, Bimbo Canada, and join us for more DWF Live events with special guests, Theland Kicknosway and Stephanie Harpe. For more information on what we are up to this month, check out all the details here!
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We’ve got some exciting things coming up! In celebration of Indigenous History Month in June, we are offering Artist Ambassador workshops to 20 lucky Legacy School classes or youth groups. Also, our Youth Ambassador applications are still open, and we are now accepting submissions for our Spring Poster Challenge. We’ve got lots going on to help you on your reconciliation journey, check out all the details below for more information!
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New Artist Ambassadors, Upcoming Events, and More! With talented new Artist Ambassadors, exciting performances, and stories of incredible reconciliACTIONS, March is shaping up to be an exciting month! Take a look at just a few of the things we are looking forward to and don’t forget to check out our careers page for some exciting new opportunities with the expanding DWF team.
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Argyle Alternative High School became a Legacy School in May 2021. As an alternative high school, located in the heart of the North End of Winnipeg, on Treaty One Territory and home of the Metis Nation, our student body identifies as mostly Indigenous. Indigenous education is a core value at our school and included in all our programming.
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It’s been a challenging year to teach and lead youth, but the good news is that spring is in sight! Our annual spring poster contest, Youth Ambassador program, and Artist Ambassador programs are in full swing, and we want you to get involved!
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From applications opening up to the 2022 Youth Ambassador Program to exciting employment opportunities, here are just a few of the things we are working on at DWF!
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A new year brings new ideas and inspiration. Our reconciliation journey is far from over, and there’s no better way to get inspired than to share ideas with one another. In December, Legacy Schools educators and leaders gathered online from various places in Canada to share the work they’ve been doing and to ask questions about how they can do this work in meaningful ways. We dedicated this newsletter to sharing those ideas, and we hope it continues to inspire the change needed in schools, groups, and communities to make Canada the place it should be.
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Colleen Devlin is the Indigenous teacher for K/1 programming at École Puntledge Park, a Legacy School in Courtenay, B.C. She has been doing amazing work with younger children in teaching them about residential schools from an early age, creating a safe space for these important conversations. After DWF’s first virtual sharing circle, Colleen was kind enough to share her article with us so we could share it with other early primary teachers. “The more educators feel comfortable teaching this topic, the more our kids learn.”
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Reconciliation is a collective journey with no clear endpoint and this year has further demonstrated how important that journey continues to be. We would like to thank everyone who took reconciliACTION in 2021 and joined us on this journey to foster meaningful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Here is a snapshot of how we built awareness, education, and made connections to move reconciliation forward this year.
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We have had a busy few months and that’s a good thing! Here’s a little update on what we’ve been up to. Click to read more about Youth Ambassador Program, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Secret Path Week, Treaties Week, and Métis Week.
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The Legacy School Program is proud to announce that there were over 100 submissions to this year’s Legacy Schools Spring Poster Contest, which closed on May 14th. Students were asked to illustrate how mental health influences their relationships with the land, their families and communities. We want to thank all the students who submitted their beautiful posters, and we hope they apply again next year.
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On May 28, we learned about the heartbreaking discovery of 215 children buried at a former residential school on Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc territory in Kamloops, BC. We stand with the Secwépemc community, all the families and communities of these young children, and all those impacted by residential schools in their grief. “It’s really hard when we know what they are going through. We always knew findings would come out one day.” said Daisy Munroe, Chanie Wenjack’s eldest sister.
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We want you to sing, play, dance or perform “I WILL NOT BE STRUCK” from the Secret Path. Help us honour the 5th anniversary of the Secret Path by participating in our #legacyschoolsongchallenge. “Music is the ultimate medium for expressions of love, and those expressions find a beautiful backdrop in the environment. Music is also a popular rallying point — at its central core, it’s a way for people to get in touch with the best parts of themselves and to voice the love in their hearts.” - Gord Downie
https://downiewenjack.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/poster.jpg 400 495 DWF https://downiewenjack.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/DWF-Hat-FB-logo-300x300.png DWF2021-03-10 16:07:232022-01-25 18:54:11The 2021 Spring Poster Contest is here!
For many Indigenous communities, creating balance among the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects of life are equally important. This year we're asking students to reflect on how they can balance their studies and stresses while remaining healthy. For this year's Spring Poster Contest, students should create a poster that answers: How does mental health influence our ties to the land, family, community, and relationships? How does this influence their holistic wellness (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being)?
https://downiewenjack.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/DWF.jpg 400 495 DWF https://downiewenjack.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/DWF-Hat-FB-logo-300x300.png DWF2021-01-14 18:36:182022-01-25 18:55:04The Educator Advisory Committee Welcomes New Members
Following a successful meeting on Dec. 5, 2020, the Educator Advisory Committee will meet again in March. Despite the difficult and unusual school year, our Legacy Schools have done great work in their efforts towards reconciliation. Their hard work and dedication has inspired our committee to continue to work as hard as possible - despite the circumstances - to improve and add to our Legacy Schools Program. We're extremely proud to introduce two new members to our committee.
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This past week many of our Legacy Schools took part in Secret Path Week, a week-long event that is held from October 17th to October 22nd to honour the passing of Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack. Throughout the school year, and especially during Secret Path Week, we encourage our Legacy School educators and students to take part in reconciliACTIONs. These are meaningful actions that work towards reconciliation, creating awareness, learning and sharing to create strong relationships among all Canadians. We would love to acknowledge some of the great reconciliACTIONs that have been led by Legacy Schools not only during Secret Path Week but throughout the 2020 school year. We hope their powerful actions inspire you and those around you to get involved and #DoSomething.
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Early in May, we challenged our Legacy Schools students to design posters that answer the question “What does it mean to be an Indigenous Ally?” They definitely rose to the occasion! We loved all of the posters that were submitted, and it was certainly difficult to select the winners from elementary, middle, and secondary schools. Winners will receive a prize pack from DWF and appear in our Legacy Schools calendar for 2020-2021.
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Show us what you can do Legacy School students - even from home! We are calling on all Legacy School students to create a poster that answers the question "What does it mean to be an Indigenous Ally?" Winning selections will appear on our social media channels and in our Legacy School calendar for 2020-2021 - a great addition to any student portfolio!
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Looking for a way to keep your kids engaged while schools are closed? Below is a list of books by Indigenous authors for children of various ages, all of which are available digitally!
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Several communities along the James Bay Ice Road were treated with a special visit to their high schools by musicians Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet of Whitehorse in early March. Students at Vezina Secondary School in Attawapiskat, ON; Francine J. Wesley Secondary School in Kashechewan, ON and Delores D. Echum Composite School in Moose Factory, ON were able to hear the band perform and ask questions of them and their involvement with the Gord Downie & Chaine Wenjack Fund Artist Ambassador program. The Legacy Schools High School Artist Ambassador program brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous musicians and other artists into high schools across Canada to inspire student leadership and forward the journey of reconciliation in school communities.
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Late January, Mike Downie joined DWF staff in visiting several Legacy Schools; Linwood Public School, Kitchener-Waterloo Vocational & Collegiate Institute (KCI), Waterloo Collegiate Institute (WCI) and Ryerson Public School in Cambridge. Every Legacy School begins the journey to understanding our shared Canadian history from a different place - be it location, age, knowledge - and it was a truly beautiful experience to have the opportunity to visit elementary, middle, and high school students to learn where they are in their journeys. Conversations were had about the great initiatives students and teachers have been doing, and Mike shared stories about how the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund came to be, the development of Secret Path, and what it means to see the important work being done by students. As Mike stated, "Gord knew we needed to get into schools."
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In 2016 Jesse Thistle, a Metis-Cree bestselling author, had the honour of meeting Gord Downie by chance one night in Toronto. Jesse was able to share with Gord the wonderful work he was doing at the time around intergenerational trauma. He remembers talking to Gord, "I thanked him for the work that he was doing on reconciliation and for making the nation aware of residential schools and Indigenous history, and that these issues now had more focus because of his efforts. He thanked me for the work that I was doing on intergenerational trauma and Métis History. He also said he was doing his best and he knows he might get some things wrong, but he’s trying and that’s what counts."
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We are happy to be able to provide you all with access to the in-class, interactive sessions that took place at Exploring by The Seat of Your Pants (EBTSOYP) for Secret Path Week. DWF would like to extend a very special thanks to Joe Grabowski at EBTSOYP for hosting all of the sessions and organizing the speakers. This year for Secret Path Week, EBTSOYP held conversations to inspire Indigenous education and forward reconciliation. They featured live events for classrooms featuring Indigenous scientists, artists and leaders. This was a valuable way to engage Legacy School classes in reconciliation and encourage students and educators to "Do Something"!
https://downiewenjack.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/spl.jpg 400 495 DWF https://downiewenjack.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/DWF-Hat-FB-logo-300x300.png DWF2019-11-08 14:35:252022-01-25 19:23:33Over 100 Students and Educators Provided With Opportunity to Attend Secret Path Live
Secret Path Live was an incredibly moving and impactful night for so many people, made even more special thanks to the generous support of the Buy One, Give One (BOGO) ticket purchasers. The BOGO ticket included one complimentary ticket for a Legacy School student or Indigenous youth who could not otherwise afford to attend the show. Through their generous support over 100 students and educators were able to attend, with five groups travelling over 1000km to attend.
https://downiewenjack.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/DWF.jpg 400 495 DWF https://downiewenjack.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/DWF-Hat-FB-logo-300x300.png DWF2019-10-05 18:41:202022-01-25 19:25:29Introducing our new Educator Advisory Committee
On Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund’s new Educator Advisory Committee met for the first time using online meeting software to connect members from throughout Canada. The meeting was the first time educators from throughout Canada gathered to discuss the Legacy Schools program and get to know one another. We are excited to have such a strong and dedicated team and look forward to improving the Legacy Schools program with their guidance and support.
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With host Tanya Talaga. In-depth interviews about Gord Downie, Chanie Wenjack, Secret Path, and the work of DWF.
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Our friends at Learning Bird have created a series of free resources based on Secret Path, which tells the story of Chanie Wenjack’s flight from residential school. In honour of the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019, the resources that they have created position Chanie Wenjack’s story as an opportunity to explore the topic of Indigenous languages and how they relate to Indigenous rights on a local, regional, national, and global scale.
https://downiewenjack.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/poster4.jpg 400 495 DWF https://downiewenjack.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/DWF-Hat-FB-logo-300x300.png DWF2019-08-22 17:25:352022-01-25 19:30:14Spotlight: Comox Valley Schools
The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund is proud to say that all the schools in the Comox Valley School District are now members of our Legacy Schools program. All 23 school sites within the district will receive toolkits in preparation for the 2019-2020 school year. Not only is the whole school district now prepared to “Do Something” and create reconciliACTIONs moving forward, but some schools and students have already done great things this past year. These initial steps are important to recognize and highlight, as they helped introduce and inspire the rest of the district to become Legacy Schools, and support each other on their own path towards reconciliation. Their successes were recently highlighted in an article in their local newspaper that speaks on how well the district has come together to support Indigenous students and education.