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Gord Downie’s Last Act to Benefit First Nations Project

The Tragically Hip’s final Man Machine Poem tour generated a staggering US $1.85 million per show. According to the Canadian Cancer Society and the Sunnybrook Foundation, ticket sales helped raise more than $1 million for brain cancer research.

Gord Downie of Local 518 (Kingston, ON) announced he will be doing two additional special benefit shows for the University of Manitoba-based National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR). The project highlights the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Ojibway boy who died in 1966 after fleeing one of the notorious state-run residential schools. “Chanie haunts me. His story is Canada’s story,” Downie says. The multimedia project includes a solo album, animated film, and a graphic novel, The Secret Path, by award-winning author Jeff Lemire.

Day schools or industrial schools, which forced First Nations children to assimilate into the dominant Canadian culture, devastated native communities. Nearly 150,000 or 30% of native children were taken from their families, deprived of their language, and exposed to abuses in the government schools. Last year, a truth commission described the schools as a tool for “cultural genocide.” The last school was closed in 1996.