Oct. 27, 2021
For Immediate Release
Brantford – Public registration is now open for a virtual screening of the film Secret Path and conversation with Mike Downie and Bob Watts of the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund. The event is presented by the Friends and Neighbours Group in partnership with Wilfrid Laurier University on Nov. 16.
The event, “In Conversation with Mike Downie and Bob Watts,” is part of an ongoing lecture series by the Friends and Neighbours Group in support of the Woodland Cultural Centre’s Save the Evidence Campaign.
Inspired by Chanie Wenjack’s story and the late Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie’s call to build a better Canada, the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund aims to build cultural understanding and create a path toward reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Downie and Watts will discuss the organization and its programs, which are fostering reconciliation efforts from coast to coast.
“In Conversation with Mike Downie and Bob Watts” will begin with a screening of the film Secret Path at 6:30 p.m. followed by a live conversation with Downie and Watts. Members of the public are invited to register online for the lecture, which will be held on Zoom. A Zoom account is required and registration will be limited to 1,000 participants.
Mike Downie is an award-winning writer, director and producer of documentary films. Downie and his late brother, Gord, founded the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund in collaboration with the Wenjack family. Downie is the co-creator and documentary director of Secret Path, which tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Anishinaabe boy who ran away from Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora and attempted to walk home to Ogoki Post, 600 kilometres away. Chanie’s body was found beside the railway tracks on Oct. 22, 1966, a week after he fled the school.
Robert (Bob) Watts is from the Mohawk and Ojibway Nations and resides at Six Nations of the Grand River. He is a much sought-after expert in Indigenous policy and the former interim executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Watts also served as chief of staff to Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine, where he was a member of the team that negotiated the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Watts is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and a Fellow at Harvard Law School. He serves as chair of the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund.
As well as Downie and Watts’ presentation, the Nov. 16 event will include a Q&A session and attendees will learn more about the Woodland Cultural Centre’s Save the Evidence campaign, which is raising funds to restore the former Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford into an interpretive heritage site to educate visitors about Canada's residential school history. The event is free to attend, but donations to the Save the Evidence campaign are encouraged. Donations can be made through canadahelps.org.
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