Secret Path

Written by Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie and illustrated by Jeff Lemire, Secret Path tells the true story of an Indigenous boy who died trying to escape his residential school.

Gord Downie, illustrated by Jeff Lemire

Secret Path is a 10-song album by Gord Downie with a graphic novel by illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie "Charlie" Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School 50 years ago.

Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on Oct. 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return home. Chanie's home was 400 miles away. He didn't know that. He didn't know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids — more than anyone will be able to imagine — he tried.

Chanie's story is Canada's story. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable. Secret Path acknowledges a dark part of Canada's history — the long-suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system — with the hope of starting our country on a road to reconciliation. Every year as we remember Chanie Wenjack, the hope for Secret Path is that it educates all Canadians young and old on this omitted part of our history, urging our entire nation to play an active role in the preservation of Indigenous lives and culture in Canada. (From Simon & Schuster)

Author interviews

Gord Downie's Secret Path

6 years ago
Duration 4:14
Tragically Hip frontman wants the story of Chanie Wenjack, an Indigenous boy who died running away from a residential school in northern Ontario, to be his legacy project

Gord Downie | Exclusive Interview

6 years ago
Duration 27:01
Gord Downie talks about cancer, his recent cross-country tour and why he's focusing on Indigenous issues

'The most emotional thing I've ever done': Jeff Lemire on illustrating Gord Downie's Secret Path

6 years ago
Duration 3:52
Jeff Lemire speaks about collaborating with Downie to tell Chanie Wenjack's story.
This week, Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire released their graphic novel "Secret Path," based on the life and death of Chanie Wenjack. We speak to Lemire, a celebrated graphic novelist, about how he approached the project.

Other books by Jeff Lemire