Sunday October 23, 2016

Does art offer the best path to heal historical wrongs?

A still from the graphic novel "Secret Path," written by Gord Downie and illustrated by Jeff Lemire.

A still from the graphic novel "Secret Path," written by Gord Downie and illustrated by Jeff Lemire. (Courtesy of Simon & Schuster)

Listen to Full Episode 1:53:03

The Secret Path is a powerful film about an Indigenous boy who dies escaping a residential school. Does art — films, books, and music — offer the best path to heal historical wrongs?

Duncan McCue

Host of Cross Country Checkup, Duncan McCue.

For decades the horrors of the residential schools went largely unnoticed by the majority of Canadians. In 1967, a story in Maclean's magazine called, "The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack" changed that. The 12-year-old boy escaped from a residential school and tried to walk 600 kilometres in late October back home to his father in Northern Ontario. His near frozen body was found later beside railroad tracks. 

Wenjack's story started an awakening that is still ongoing to this day. This week on the 50th anniversary, it's being retold in many ways, The Secret Path, a multimedia project by Gord Downie is one of those ways.

The story of the residential schools has gone through a political transformation and it is increasingly surfacing in art — films, books, music.

Our question: Does art perhaps offer the best path to heal historical wrongs? 

Guests

Joseph Boyden, award-winning author of many novels including Three Day Road and The Orenda and most recently Wenjack the story of Chanie Wenjack who ran away from residential school and died of exposure in 1966.
Twitter: @josephboyden 

Susan AglukarkInuk singer and songwriter, winner of three Juno awards and recipient of The Order of Canada in 2005.
Twitter: @S_Aglukark

Ry Moran, Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. 
Twitter: @rymoran

Ken Coates, Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy University of Saskatchewan.   
Twitter: @kenscoates