Secret Path Week 2019


Tomorrow marks the start of Secret Path Week. This annual event, which runs from October 17th – October 22nd, marks the dates that both Gord Downie (October 17th) and Chanie Wenjack (October 22nd) passed. Our friends at the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund are calling on all Canadians to step up, take action and “do something” to further the conversation around the history of residential schools.

There are a number of events taking place across Canada, including the Walk for Wenjack, Secret Path Live, and That Night On The Prairies 2, that you can participate in. Consult the calendar of events to see what is happening in your area.

You can also plan your own act of reconciliACTION. A reconciliACTION is an event or activity that aims to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples together in the spirit of reconciliation to raise awareness, share, and learn. Many schools have planned reconciliACTIONS as a catalyst for important conversations.

If your class can’t participate in a local Walk for Wenjack, you can always have your students complete the Finding the Secret Path Mapping Activity. This free activity sheet is part of a resource kit called Indigenous Languages and Secret Path that we’ve created for you to use with your high school students. The kit positions Chanie Wenjack’s story as an opportunity to explore the topic of Indigenous languages and how they relate to Indigenous rights on a local, regional, national, and global scale. It will help your students develop literacy, research, communication, and empathy skills as they learn about a variety of Indigenous languages and revitalization efforts and share what they learn with others in their communities.

As part of the mapping activity, students will think back to what they read in the Secret Path and how Chanie Wenjack had difficulty reading the English map that he took with him on his journey away from the residential school in Kenora, ON. How do you think he felt? Students can complete their own mapping activity in class to reflect and discuss how language and language loss can affect how we find our place in the world. 

In addition to this resource kit, we have also created one for middle school students around Storytelling and Secret Path that guides students through using different forms of storytelling to express themselves and honour stories like Chanie Wenjack’s.

How are you marking Secret Path Week in your school? Let us know what activities you have planned.


Dene Tha' First Nation fall moose camp