Learn more or sign up now for a 30-day free trial. The Wenjack and Downie families officially founded The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund in 2016 to support reconciliation between Indigenous and … Kelly is their uncle and favorite relative. Through this sentence, the writer expresses his disappointment that Chanie did not live this long. When they found Charlie he didn’t have any identification. He died trying to walk 400 miles home to his father, who lives and works on an isolated reservation in northern Ontario. None of the half-dozen whites sitting at the counter even looked at her. In 1967, a Maclean’s cover story told the tragic tale of Chanie Wenjack, an Indigenous boy who died after running away from his residential school in northern Ontario. Before passing, he shined his light on the story of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack who died from hunger and exposure after trying to find his way home … That means he was a slow learner and had to be given special instruction in English and arithmetic. It is even doubtful if his father really understood either. Charlie Wenjack was an Ojibway Indian attending Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ont. “Do you think it was because he wanted to see his parents?”, Before the boys were questioned, the constable in charge of the investigation, Gerald Lucas, had given the jury a matter-of-fact account of finding Charlie’s body. The arm turned gangrenous and was amputated. Using an RSS Reader you can access most recent stories and other feeds posted on this network. But the most poignant suggestion was the one that reflected their own bewilderment: “A study be made of the present Indian education and philosophy. "Why Chanie Wenjack, you might still ask? Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to walk home. He attended Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora. There were two housewives, a railroad worker, a service-station operator, and Robinson, who is a teacher at the Beaverbrae School in Kenora. He probably spent hours, huddled behind rocks to escape the wind, gazing at the railroad tracks. All Chanie wanted was to go home, which was over 600 km away in Ogoki Post on the Marten Falls First Nation reserve. Chanie "Charlie" Wenjack was an Ojibwe First Nations boy who ran away from Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School where he boarded for three years while attending residential school in Kenora, Ontario, Canada. They circled the Kenora airfield and struck out north through the bush over a “secret trail” children at the school like to use. Today, 23 October, is the 52nd anniversary of Chanie Wenjack’s death. It was published by Hamish Hamilton of Penguin Books in 2016 and features illustrations by Cree artist Kent Monkman. His article, “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack,” was published in Maclean’s magazine in 1967. This fall he wasn’t quite good enough to go back into the grade system, so he was placed in what is called a senior opportunity class. In fact, he was thin and sickly. The Kellys also had two teenage daughters to feed and Kelly, who survives on a marginal income from welfare and trapping, probably began to wonder exactly what his responsibility to Charlie was. There were no Indians on the jury. He died as the white world’s rules had forced him to live—cut off from his people. “He was always looking at this map,” said Mrs. Kelly, “and you couldn’t get nothing out of him. (That same day nine other children ran away. in northern Ontario. Would they run away again? They were all dry. Joseph Boyden's plea for Canadians, on behalf of an Indigenous boy who died fleeing residential school. Chanie Wenjack was a young Anishinaabe boy from Ogoki Post . Ralph, 13, was always running away —three times since school had started last fall. IAN ADAMS February 1 1967 Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. In telling it simply, he had underlined the stark grimness of Charlie’s death. October 2, 2017. The jury found that “the Indian education system causes tremendous emotional and adjustment problems.” They suggested that the school be staffed adequately so that the children could develop personal relationships with the staff, and that more effort be given to boarding children in private homes. In his 50s, he is known as a good man who doesn’t drink and provides well for his family. If they had planned it a little better they could have taken along their parkas and overshoes. He has decided not to send his daughters to school but to keep them at home. https://nationtalk.ca, The permalink for this story is: Chanie was 12, and Indigenous. Gord Downie began Secret Path as ten poems incited by the story of Chanie Wenjack, a twelve year-old boy who died fifty years ago on October 22, 1966, in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ontario, walking home to the family he was taken from over 400 miles away. Silence. MACLEANS In 1967, a Maclean’s cover story told the tragic tale of Chanie Wenjack, an Indigenous boy who died after running away from his residential school in … Canadian self-described (but disputed) Aboriginal author Joseph Boyden and Tragic Hipster Gord Downie took the sad story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Ojibway boy who froze to death in northern Ontario in 1966, and turned it into a book, songs and videos that grotesquely distort the truth in order to demonize the … Just two blocks west at Second and Matheson I walked into a hamburger joint called the Salisbury House. The mother of Chanie Wenjack, the 12-year-old boy who froze to death while on the run from a residential school and who later inspired a generation of … He died as the white world's rules had forced him to live — cut off from his people. His death in 1966 sparked national attention and the first inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children in Canadian residential schools. As soon as they were clear of the school, the three boys hit that strange running walk with which young Indian boys can cover 10 miles in an hour. It was on the last part of this walk, probably by the tracks, that Charlie picked up a CNR schedule with a route map in it. Chanie Wenjack was a young Anishinaabe boy from Ogoki Post in Marten Falls . He attended Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora. Until now. The crushed-rock ballast, so hard to walk on, is a pale-yellow supporting ribbon for the dark steel tracks. And when a snow squall comes tunnelling through a rock cut it blots out everything in a blur of whiteness. Chanie Wenjack died 50 years ago this month: The Ojibwa boy froze by the side of Northern Ontario train tracks after running away from a residential school. Occasionally, one of them dies. They won’t stay at the school. Early the next morning the boys walked another half mile to the cabin of Charles Kells. “I just work here part-time,” he said. That same morning Charlie’s best friend, Eddie Cameron, showed up at the Kelly cabin. He didn’t know that. I told him to ask the sectionmen along the way for some food.”. Slipping away was simple. It meant that in early childhood his chest had been opened. He was at one such school at the age of six when he broke his left arm. Two boys escaping a residential school followed tragically in the footsteps of Chanie Wenjack. We have republished that cover story below in its original form, in which Chanie’s teachers misnamed him Charlie. It was late at night when the three boys got to Redditt: it had taken them more than eight hours. There’s not much else to say about Charlie Wenjack, except that on November 17 an inquest was held in the Kenora Magistrate’s Court. “Chanie” was what his family called him.) .I guess I’ll have to learn to keep my mouth shut. This is clearly shown right from the topic of the written material, "The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack". St. Joseph Communications uses cookies for personalization, to customize its online advertisements, and for other purposes. The story is also available in The Maclean’s Archives. When Eddie Cameron, Charlie’s best friend, entered the witness box, Davidson unnerved Eddie with warnings about telling the truth and swearing on the Bible. Consequently, Cecilia Jeffrey is, for 10 months in the year, really nothing more than an enormous dormitory. Read More: http://www.macleans.ca/society/the-lonely-death-of-chanie-wenjack/, This article comes from NationTalk: All they got out of his pockets was a little glass jar with a screw top. Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for Wenjack at Amazon.com. An Anishinaabe boy, at age 12, he ran away from his residential school and subsequently died from hunger and exposure to the weather. The bush undulates back from the railroad tracks like a bleak and desolate carpet. He died as the white world’s rules had forced him to live—cut off from his people. And Charlie, who understood hardly any English, spent the first two years in grade one. So this, then, is the story of how a little boy met a terrible and lonely death, of the handful of people who became involved, and of a town that hardly noticed. The frontman of the Tragically Hip worked with Toronto illustrator Jeff Lemire on Secret Path, which includes an album, graphic novel and animated film. Chanie Wenjack, an Anishinaabe boy from Ontario, ran away from his residential school near Kenora at age 12, and subsequently died from hunger and exposure to the harsh weather. It was part of a collaborative effort to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Chanie's death. It was a sunny afternoon and they were wearing only light clothing. “I never said nothing to that,” says Kelly. Eddie is also a nephew of Kelly’s. Jackie, only 11, often played hooky. The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund is part of Gord Downie’s legacy. Charlie wasn’t a strong boy. “It was too dangerous for five in the canoe.” said Kelly, “so I told the stranger he would have to stay behind.”. The postmortem that was later performed on Charlie by Dr. Peter Pan. The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack – Macleans, Nunatsiavut Government: President extends congratulations to respected Inuit elders on receipt on honorary degrees from MUN, The Confederacy of Treaty No. The author says that Chanie Wenjack would have been 13 years old on January 19. And the jury was obviously moved. Charlie played outside for a while, then he came in and told Mrs. Kelly he was leaving and he asked for some matches. I couldn’t let them run around in the bush. He saw Charlie’s body lying beside the track. Charlie must have fallen several times because bruises were found later on his shins, forehead and over his left eye. They went to the house of a white man the MacDonald brothers knew as “Mister Benson.” Benson took the exhausted boys in, gave them something to eat, and let them sleep that night on the floor. “The Lonely Death of Chanie Wenjack” Written By Ian Adams, MacLean’s Magazine, 1967 The Secret Path is an animated film from Gord Downie that tells the true story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who died while trying to escape from a residential school and travel back home. But there was nothing stupid about Charlie. (Chanie Wenjack was called “Charlie” at his inquest and subsequent tellings of his story until the last few years; it was what he was called at residential school. An hour later a section crew and two police officers went out to bring Charlie’s body back. Charlie Wenjack finally did go home — the Indian Affairs Department saw to that. He died of hunger and exposure at Farlane, Ontario while trying to walk 600 km back to his home, Ogoki Post on the Marten Falls Reserve. But if a snap was taken, nobody knows where it is now. “If you swear on that book to tell the truth, and you tell lies, you will be punished.” Which seemed unnecessary because, as Crown Attorney E. C. Burton pointed out, a juvenile doesn’t have to be sworn in at an inquest. It was a terrible mistake.”. February 1, 1967. In one of the photographs an Ontario Provincial Police sergeant is pointing down at Charlie’s body, where it lies beside the CNR track. This originally was published in the February 1967 issue of Maclean’s magazine. ABOUT CHANIE WENJACK. The book follows Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Ojibwe boy, as he escapes from a … Click here to view this article in the Maclean’s archive. She also gave him a plateful of fried potatoes mixed with strips of bacon. He buried Charlie, his only son, in the tiny cemetery on the north shore of the Albany River. “I showed him a good trail down to the railroad tracks. An Indian woman in an alcoholic stupor was on her hands and knees on the floor, trying to get out the door. The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack - Macleans.ca From www .macleans .ca - September 30, 2016 3:08 PM Chanie "Charlie" Wenjack (January 19, 1954 – October 23, 1966) was an Ojibwe boy who was famous for running away from a residential school. A young well-dressed Indian girl came in and, with a masklike face, walked around the woman on the floor. © Copyright 2021 St. Joseph Communications. Maclean’s Articles: The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack (2016) & (1967) Historica Canada, Heritage Minutes: Chanie Wenjack Statement of Apology Calls to Action Using the Lesson Plans The 50 minute Secret Path video can be overwhelming for students to watch in its entirety. There are five police pictures of Charlie, though. On the afternoon of Sunday, October 16, when Charlie had only another week to live, he was playing on the Cecilia Jeffrey grounds with his two friends, Ralph and Jackie MacDonald. You can use your smart phone to browse stories in the comfort of your hand. Gord was introduced to Chanie Wenjack (miscalled “Charlie” by his teachers) by Mike Downie, his brother, … In the three years he had been at the school Charlie had never run away. Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users. Colin Wasacase, the principal, went along with them, too. By Ian Adams “We tell this man he has to send his son to one of our schools, then we bring his boy back on a luggage car.”. The coroner, Dr. R. G. Davidson, a thin-lipped and testy man, mumbled his own evidence when he read the pathologist’s report, then kept telling the boys who ran away with Charlie to speak up when answering the Crown attorney’s questions. . Wenjack is a historical fiction novella based on the story of Chanie "Charlie" Wenjack by Canadian author Joseph Boyden. But in reality the map would be never more than a symbol, because Charlie didn’t know enough English to read it. CHARLIE WENJACK would have been 13 years old on January 19, and it’s possible that during his short and disturbed life someone may have taken a snapshot of him — one of those laughing, open-faced, blurred little pictures one so often sees of children. Chanie attended the school for two years and ran away on October 16, 1966. by ahnationtalk on September 20, 2016. He must have stumbled along the tracks at a painfully slow pace — in the end he had covered only a little more than 12 miles. Somewhere along the track he lost his map or threw it away. A somber tone. He died while trying to walk 600 km back home. Chanie Wenjack Chanie was born January 19, 1954. All were caught within 24 hours.). Gord was introduced to Chanie Wenjack (miscalled “Charlie” by his teachers) by Mike Downie, his brother, who shared with him Ian Adams’ Maclean’s story from February 6, 1967, “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack.” https://nationtalk.ca/story/the-lonely-death-of-chanie-wenjack-macleans. “Indian children’s early medical records are practically impossible to track down,” explains Kenora’s public-health doctor, P. F. Playfair. Wasacase understands that, too. We have decided to include one song in each lesson plan. . What do you think will happen? At 11:20 a.m. on Sunday, October 23, engineer Elwood Mclvor was bringing a freight train west through the rock cut near Farlane, 12 1/2 miles east of Redditt. Sometimes they lose a leg or an arm trying to climb aboard freight trains. It’s the only way you can get to Charlie’s home. And that’s all he had. This gathering of relations subtly put Charlie Wenjack out in the cold. The username/email or password you entered is incorrect. Yes, they were lonesome. Later he and his wife Clara would refer to Charlie as “the stranger.” The Kellys had no idea where Charlie’s reserve was or how to get there. A disappointed tone. He was an Indian. That night all there was to eat were two potatoes. And it was beside a lot of water.’, On Thursday morning Kelly decided he would take his three nephews by canoe up to his trapline at Mud Lake, three miles north of Redditt. of Kenora, showed that his lungs were infected at the time of his death. The rest of the story is told omniscient through the perspectives of many of the animals (and insects) he encountered in the wild. He spent last year in what is called a junior opportunity class. Gord was introduced to Chanie Wenjack (miscalled “Charlie” by his teachers) by Mike Downie, his brother, who shared with him Ian Adams’ Maclean’s story from February 6, 1967, “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack.” Chanie Wenjack died 50 years ago this month: The Ojibwa boy froze by the side of Northern Ontario train tracks after running away from a residential school. Maclean’s Articles: The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack (2016) & (1967) Historica Canada, Heritage Minutes: Chanie Wenjack Statement of Apology Calls to Action Using the Lesson Plans The 50 minute Secret Path video can be overwhelming for students to watch in its entirety. 3. Charlie was 12, and Indigenous. His ordeal and his death brought attention to the treatment of … Chanie (misnamed Charlie by his teachers) was a 12-year-old Anishinaabe boy who, along with two other classmates, ran away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ontario in October 1966. Gord Downie was introduced to Chanie’s life and death by the Maclean’s magazine article “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack” and was inspired to create a concept album, Secret Path, about Chanie’s story. The church services were over, and the congregations from Knox United Church and the First Presbyterian Church, which face each other at Second Street and Fifth Avenue, were spilling out onto the sidewalks. He was headed home when he died of exposure on October 23, 1966 on 3. “I told the boys they would have to go back to school. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Downie was introduced to the story by his brother Mike, who shared with him Ian Adams' Maclean's story from February 6, 1967, "The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack." Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations. That might have saved Charlie’s life. We made them that way.”, The men at the counter looked at him with closed, sullen faces. 6 First Nations affirm that Health Canada did not consult with the Nations to address the COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan, Outstanding service recognized by Premier Sandy Silver, MKO – Webinar on February 3: Moving Towards Enforceable Rights for Victims of Crime, Niagara Region: Regional Chair Bradley announces membership of Community Coordination Task Force for COVID-19 Vaccination, http://www.macleans.ca/society/the-lonely-death-of-chanie-wenjack/. Right there on the playground the three boys decided to run away. In their own way they tried to do their duty. We’re republishing that cover story below in its original form, in which Chanie’s teachers misnamed him Charlie. The sad truth about Chanie Wenjack. The wind whines through the jackpines and spruce, breaking off rotten branches, which fall with sudden crashes. just four-and-a-half feet from the trains that carry the white world by in warm and well-fed comfort. His own parents kept him out of school for two years because another boy in the family died much the same way Charlie did. “I work for the highways department . . The MacDonald boys are orphans — their parents were killed in a train accident two years ago. We see the image of Chanie’s teacher in the classroom. It is the exact spot where on the night of October 22 Charlie collapsed and died from exposure and hunger . The temperature was between –1° and –6° C. It is not hard to imagine the hopelessness of his thoughts. “Chanie” was what his family called him.) The boy, Chanie, is even based on a real boy named Charlie. Today, 23 October, is the 52nd anniversary of Chanie Wenjack’s death. Downie performed “Secret Path” and “Here, Here and Here” from Secret Path at the Basement Revue show on December 18, 2014. The 2010s The 2000s The 1990s The 1980s The 1970s The 1960s He, too, had run away from the school. Charlie only knew “his dad lived a long way away. He died as the white world's rules had forced him to live—cut off from his people. Kelly is a small man in his 50s. His feet, encased in ankle-high leather boots, are oddly turned inward. The sad truth about Chanie Wenjack. 2054 Views. It is unlikely that Charlie ever understood why he had to go to school and why it had to be such a long way from home. I didn’t know what to do. Nobody knows exactly when. Credit: Macleans Secret Path Week is a national week to remember the death of Chanie Wenjack, a young Anishinaabe boy who died trying to run away from residential school and reunite with his … October 20, 2016 The runaway project: In 1967, Maclean’s told the heartbreaking story of Chanie Wenjack and his lonely death near a railway track outside Kenora, Ont. Visit Macleans.ca/service For questions regarding your subscription, call 1-888-622-5326 or e-mail us. She was taking tests for a suspected case of TB. 642 talking about this. Because Charlie wasn’t as strong as the others, they had to wait often while he rested and regained his strength. Charlie replied that he was leaving to go home to his father. He knows what Indian residential schools are all about. The kid wouldn’t give me his name. The girl bought a pack of cigarettes, and then on the way out held the door open for the woman, who crawled out on her hands and knees and collapsed on the sidewalk. (Chanie Wenjack was called “Charlie” at his inquest and subsequent tellings of his story until the last few years; it was what he was called at residential school. From Nakina they all flew 110 miles north to Ogoki. Then he left. Gord Downie began Secret Path as ten poems incited by the story of Chanie Wenjack, a twelve year-old boy who died fifty years ago on October 22, 1966, in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ontario, walking home to the family he was taken from over 400 miles away. The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack - Macleans.ca From www .macleans .ca - September 30, 2016 3:08 PM No, they didn’t understand why they couldn’t be with their relatives. Home » Newswire » The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack – Macleans, by ahnationtalk on September 20, 20162207 Views, Charlie was 12, and Indigenous. He became lonely and ran away. But as the days passed Charlie got the message. The boys were heading for Redditt, a desolate railroad stop on the CNR line, 20 miles north of Kenora and 30 miles east of the Manitoba border. in Marten Falls in northern Ontario. He didn’t start school until he was nine. When he talks he has a nervous habit of raking his fingers through his grey, shoulder-length hair. “No,” insisted the kid, “it was you, me, and everybody else. We have decided to include one song in each lesson plan. Robert MacBain. In the following days of loneliness that map was to become the focus of his longings to get back to his father. Mrs. Kelly gave him some wooden matches and put them in a little glass jar with a screw cap so they would keep dry. In 1967, Maclean’s told the tragic tale of Chanie Wenjack, an Indigenous boy who died after running away from his residential school in northern Ontario. The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack – Macleans. Their story was forgotten. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at least 32 other Indigenous children died while trying to escape residential school. So it must have been with a defiant attempt to assert his own trail existence that he would take out his map and show it to his friend Eddie Cameron, and together they would try to make sense out of it. And Charlie would tell Eddie that he was going to leave soon to go home to his father. Charlie’s father, grief-stricken, was bewildered and angry as well. And then at some point on Saturday night, Charlie fell backward in a faint and never got up again. Some 150 Indian children live at the school but are integrated into the local school system. Nobody told him to stay either. Is it right?”. Because Canada is a haunted house." Gord Downie was introduced to Chanie’s life and death by the Maclean’s magazine article “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack” and was inspired to create a concept album, Secret Path, about Chanie’s story. I never seen a kid before who was so quiet like that.”, Nobody told Charlie to go.