Support in wake of Gord Downie's death 'helps with the sadness,' brother says
David Friend, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, October 20, 2017 12:09PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 20, 2017 9:18PM EDT
TORONTO -- The outpouring of public support in the days since Gord Downie's death has been "unbelievable," says one of the brothers of the Tragically Hip frontman.
"It helps with the sadness because it's so uplifting," Mike Downie said through tears during an interview in Toronto on Friday.
"But it actually makes you a little sadder too because you realize there's a lot of people who are really hurting."
Downie died Tuesday night at age 53. It was in May 2016 that he revealed his diagnosis with glioblastoma, an invasive brain tumour with one of the poorest survival rates of any cancer.
Candlelight vigils were organized on Wednesday in Downie's hometown of Kingston, Ont., and in Bobcaygeon, Ont., a community immortalized in one of the Hip's most popular songs.
A private family gathering for the singer was being held Friday and Mike Downie said the family was also considering a public memorial in the future.
"We'll pull something together in the coming days, I guess," he said.
"It'll be something that Gord would like and appreciate so we'll just have to figure that out."
Gord and Mike Downie worked together on the "Secret Path" project, an album, graphic novel and animated film about Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Ojibway boy who died after escaping a residential school in 1966.
They also established the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund to serve as a catalyst in the movement towards reconciliation. The initiatives include support for educational tools and grants that enable "reconcili-actions," or tangible efforts to help the lives of Indigenous people and unite communities.
"We want the fund to inspire people to find their own way to get involved and to make a difference," Downie said.
"What that really does on the whole is make people think more about Indigenous lives here -- something we've taken for granted here for a long time -- and just get into that action phase. It's a big step, but I think it's the most important part."