Chanie Wenjack, misnamed Charlie Wenjack by his teachers, was an Anishinaabe boy born in Ogoki Post on the Marten Falls Reserve on January 19th, 1954. Chanie’s story, tragically, is like so many stories of Indigenous children in this country; he fell victim to Canada’s colonization of Indigenous Peoples.
In 1963, at the age of nine, Chanie was sent to the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential school in Kenora, Ontario. In 1966, at 12-years old, Chanie ran away from Cecilia Jeffrey, attempting to reunite with his family 600 kilometers away in Ogoki Post. Nine others ran away that same day, all but Chanie were caught within 24 hours.
Chanie’s body was found beside the railway tracks on October 22, 1966, a week after he fled. He succumbed to starvation and exposure. In his pocket was nothing but a little glass jar with seven wooden matches.
Chanie is survived by his sisters, Pearl and Daisy, and many other family members who carry his legacy and story. Over the years, the Wenjack family has grown to over 200 people living across Canada; including Ogoki Post, Pickle Lake, and as far north as Pond Inlet, NU.
Pearl and Daisy have been advocates for sharing Chanie’s story. Their goal is to share with all who will listen to prevent such atrocities from taking place again.
Harriet, Chanie’s niece, is a member of DWF’s Board of Directors as a voice for the Wenjack family. She ensures that the Wenjack family is represented in decisions made at DWF.