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Downie Wenjack Fund launches 215 Pledge to honour lost children of residential schools

FAIZA AMIN | posted Friday, Jun 4th, 2021

The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund is launching a new initiative called the 215 Pledge, to honour the lost children of residential schools.

With June being National Indigenous History Month and the recent discovery of the remains of 215 children buried at a Kamloops, B.C. residential school, the pledge is calling for Indigenous Peoples and all Canadians to urge leaders and decision-makers to take action.

Chanie Wenjack died at 12 years old in 1966 after running away from the Cecelia Jeffrey Residential School in Kenora, Ontario. Gord Downie created the Secret Path, a series of poems turned into an album and later an animated film, after hearing Wenjack’s story before launching the Downie Wenjack Fund (DWF).

The 215 Pledge represents a growing coalition for reconciliation and actions so “no missing child who died at a residential school is ever forgetting and the experiences of all affected by residential schools,” read a release from DWF.

“We are all grieving for the families of the 215 children who never returned home. This news reminds us that our work building cultural understanding and creating a path toward reconciliation only becomes more relevant and crucial as more truths are uncovered,” said DWF president and CEO Sarah Midanik.

This week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed the Canadian government will help unearth gravesites at other residential schools across the country, pledging $27 million.

The DWF will be hospital four virtual events this June to raise awareness about the residential school system and honour Indigenous history and culture.

Event Dates/Times:

  • British Columbia – June 9, 2:00 pm EST
  • James Bay Region – June 16, 2:00 pm EST
  • Québec (French subtitles) – June 23, 2:00 pm EST
  • Canada (French subtitles) – June 30, 2:00 pm EST

The events can be viewed on DWF’s Youtube and Facebook channels.

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