By Cory Bilyea
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
TORONTO- The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) announced plans to work together, to continue creating a meaningful pathway for reconciliation.
A press release from NWMO said, “This new five-year agreement will invest $150,000 into supporting both the Legacy Schools program and Legacy Spaces program. The partnership broadly advances Canadian learning about the history and impact of the Residential School system on Indigenous peoples. Both programs are an invitation for people to participate in reconciliation.”
“The DWF is an amazing organization that is building on the legacy of two incredible people (Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack) to encourage people to learn about reconciliation and take action,” said Lisa Frizzell, vice president of stakeholder relations at the NWMO.
The announcement was made on Sept. 29, the day before Orange Shirt Day, which is a day that honours those Indigenous children that were forcibly taken from their families and sent to Residential Schools.
With support from the NWMO, the Legacy Schools program provides free toolkits to teachers in schools across Canada, including educators in areas where the NWMO is active, including South Bruce, and Ignace, Ontario.
Among its resources, the Legacy Schools toolkit features a graphic novel created by the lead singer of the Tragically Hip, Gord Downie, before he passed away from terminal brain cancer.
The Secret Path, tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who died in 1966 after escaping a **>residential<** school and trying to walk 600 kilometres home.
“We are so grateful to extend our partnership with the NWMO,”
said Sarah Midanik, president and CEO of DWF. “This five-year commitment will support exponential growth in the Legacy Schools program to more schools and communities.”
Currently, the NWMO is planning its own Legacy Space at its office in Toronto.
“Our Legacy Space will further support staff in being able to actively see their role in reconciliation as part of interweaving Indigenous knowledge into all of NWMO’s work, by embedding Indigenous teachings into the workplace,” said Jessica Perritt, section manager, Indigenous knowledge and reconciliation at the NWMO.
The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) was created out of two families coming together to make a change, uphold Chanie and Gord’s legacies, and create a pathway on the journey toward reconciliation. Each year, DWF hosts its annual event “Secret Path Week” that spreads awareness about their programming. This year, virtual events will be held online from Oct. 17- 22. For more information, to support and donate today, please visit www.downiewenjack.ca
Cory Bilyea is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Wingham Advance Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.