TORONTO — Throughout February, Steam Whistle Brewing is supporting the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund by donateing half of all profits from draught sales for the month.
“We are honoured to work with and support an organization with the mandate to build a more inclusive Canada and build bridges between the Indigenous communities and the rest of Canada,” says Tim McLaughlin, vice-president of Marketing, Steam Whistle Brewing. “Gord Downie is a Canadian icon and, when he told the tragic story of Chanie Wenjack, he brought this dark chapter of our history to the national consciousness. It is important that we honour his legacy and support this important cause of building a more inclusive Canada for everyone.”
In 1966, at 12 years old and living at a residential school some 650 kilometres away from his family, Wenjack did what so many Indigenous children in residential schools did — he ran away. For six days, he and some friends made their way north. Then he went out on his own, determined, but ill-equipped for the unforgiving terrain of Northern Ontario and the freezing temperatures, rain and snow. Wenjack’s lifeless body was found by some railroad tracks, some 50 kilometres from the school he fled.
Gord Downie saw the story in an old Maclean’s magazine and was inspired to “do something;” he turned the tragic tale into The Secret Path, a project that included an album, documentary and graphic novel. The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund was subsequently formed.
“Gord told us about a dark chapter in Canadian history in a way that only he could,” says McLaughlin. “We are proud to follow Gord’s lead and help spread awareness about the mistreatment of Indigenous children in the residential-school system.”