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‘Secret Path’: Film on Residential Schools Screening in Buffalo

Tonight, Dec. 2, at 9:30 p.m., North Park Theatre in Buffalo will present “Secret Path,” an animated short film released by Juno-winning “Tragically Hip” singer Gord Downie, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. The screening is being presented in conjunction with the Canadian charity, I Love First Peoples.

“Secret Path” tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Native boy who ran away from his residential school in 1966, and was found dead six days later on the side of railroad tracks, trying to get home. In a statement by Downie on his video, the story of Chanie is a difficult one to digest.

"Chanie haunts me. His story is Canada’s story. This is about Canada. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable, but this begins in the late 1800s and goes to 1996. “White” Canada knew – on somebody’s purpose – nothing about this. We weren’t taught it in school; it was hardly ever mentioned."

Downie created and then released the “Secret Path” album and animated short to promote greater understanding between Native and non-Native communities, and to raise awareness about the historic impact of the residential school system, which continues to affect Native American and Canadian communities.

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After the showing, NHL star Cody McCormick of the Buffalo Sabres will discuss his Native heritage, and a former student of Thomas Indian School will also share his story.

Memorabilia signed by Downie, the Sabres, the NFL Buffalo Bills and the Buffalo Bandits will be auctioned in support of the Downie & Wenjack Fund, created by Gord and Mike Downie, as well as the Wenjack family, to promote reconciliation. Tickets to this event are $10 and on sale now at the North Park Theatre at 1428 Hertel Avenue in Buffalo or on the theater website:

I Love First Peoples is a Canadian charity that empowers Native youth to succeed through education. In response to the high suicide rates among Native youth, I Love First Peoples started a celebrity campaign that features over 100 actors, recording artists and athletes, including American celebrities such as Evanescence, Zahn McClarnon, Forrest Goodluck and Irene Bedard, among others.

Follow ICTMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wow’s and Sports Editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling