Thunder Bay

Downie-Wenjack fund receives $5M in 2018 federal budget

The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund will receive $5 million in funding as part of the 2018 Canadian federal budget.

Money to be provided this year, one of many reconciliation programs to receive funds

Gord Downie's Secret Path album was inspired by the story of Chanie Wenjack. The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund was founded last year, and will receive $5 million in funding as part of the 2018 federal budget.

The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund will receive $5 million in funding as part of the 2018 Canadian federal budget.

Chanie Wenjack was an Ojibway youth who left Kenora's Cecillia Jeffrey Indian Residential School on Oct. 16, 1966, intending to return to his home at Ogoki Post, about 600 kilometres away.

His body was found on Oct. 22 along the CN mainline, near Farlane, Ont. He was 12 years old when he died.

Wenjack's death was determined to be the result of hunger and exposure.

Wenjack's story would later inspire the album The Secret Path by the late Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie, which was released in 2016.

Fund launched in 2016

The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund was founded in 2016, with the goal of helping Canada's reconciliation efforts with Indigenous people.

In the budget document, the federal government states the fund "is part of Gord Downie's legacy and embodies his commitment, and that of his family, to improving the lives of Indigenous Peoples."

"Developed in collaboration with the Wenjack family, the goal of the fund is to continue the conversation that began with Chanie Wenjack's residential school story."

The funding will be provided in 2018-2019, the government said, and the fund is one of several programs and initiatives to receive funding under the budget's Reconciliation section.

Also included is:

  • $173-million over three years to provide clean and safe drinking water in Indigenous communities
  • $447 million over five years for an Indigenous skills and employment training program
  • $10 million this year to support Metis nation priorities
  • About $1.5 billion over five years to support Indigenous health
  • and $143 million over five years to support the expansion of the First Nations Land Management Act