Secret Path

SKU: 9781501155949

Gord Downie, Jeff Lemire
Grade Levels:
Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Adult Education, College, University
Ojibwe, Multiple Nations
Book Type:
Simon & Schuster
Copyright Date:

Sale price$26.99


Secret Path by Gord Downie is now available for purchase from  This oversize (30.5 x 0.8 x 30.5 cm; 12 x 12 inches) 48-page graphic novel contains the ten song album by Gord Downie with a graphic novel by illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School fifty years ago. Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids—more than anyone will be able to imagine—he tried. Artist Jeff Lemire offers essentially a wordless graphic novel that aligns with Downie's 10 song lyrics (poems) and effectively describes his version of the youth's outstanding efforts to return home after fleeing the horrors of residential school. This long-ago loss of a First Nation boy is brought to the Canadian public through the compelling song lyrics  and stark black, white and pale blue drawings. Students and teachers will find a powerful resource about one child's heart-breaking story of the impact of residential schools in Canada. Sexual abuse is hinted at through the lyrics in Don't Let This Touch You and the corresponding image of the shadowy male figure hovering over a youth's bed when the viewer sees only the crucifix and the belted waist. The final sequence of images shows the freezing body of the boy lying beside railroad tracks dreaming of being reunited by his father. The boy says simply, goodbye. This is the only phrase uttered in the story.  Each book contains a break-open envelope with an access code permitting a single user download of Gord Downie's album, Secret Path. Highly recommended. Suitable for mature intermediate and secondary level readers. Teachers should note one song lyric uses a single reference to foul language which may be an issue for sensitive readers.

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