Gord Downie’s Secret Path concert recreated two years after his death
Two years after his death, Gord Downie’s memorable concert performance of his Secret Path album, was recreated by performers in Toronto Saturday night.
The benefit concert is a recreation of the 2016 multimedia performance by the Tragically Hip lead singer on the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Ojibwe boy who died while escaping a residential school in 1966.
The boy attempted to walk 600 kilometres to his home, but died from starvation and exposure to the cold. The tragedy inspired Downie’s Secret Path, his fifth and final solo album released in October 2016.
"It really haunted Gord," Downie’s brother Mike Downie told CTV News Toronto Saturday. "It stayed with him [and] he ended up writing these 10 poems that then became 10 songs.”
Musicians including Sam Roberts, Tanya Tagaq, July Talk, Sarah Harmer, and Buffy Sainte-Marie gathered Saturday to perform the album at Roy Thomson Hall for Secret Path Live.
It's one of many events held this week across the city to commemorate Downie, who died because of a form of brain cancer.
"Secret Path Week is about creating a national platform to have safe conversations, learn more about Indigenous culture and create awareness about the true history regarding residential schools,” Sarah Midanik, CEO of the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund said.
“We encourage Canadians to take action, do something, to be part of the reconciliation movement.”
The performers on Saturday night will be backed by the original Secret Path band, which performed with Downie at the benefit concert three years ago.
"Obviously there are a lot of emotions and feelings going around, but I feel lucky and very blessed to be able to celebrate his art,” Downie's other brother Patrick said Saturday.
There were also special guest appearances by performers such as William Prince, Whitehorse and Tom Wilson.
The performance included music by some of the other artists themselves.
Proceeds from Saturday’s show will go to the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund to promote reconciliation.