Nov 9, 2016
The Chanie Wenjack story
In the month of October there was a lot of talk in Canadian media about the Chanie Wenjack story … let the Library get you up to speed and share resources if you are curious to know more about the tragic death of this young boy 50 years ago …

This year many well-known and talented Canadian artists decided to get involved in highlighting the 50th anniversary of Chanie’s death as it is a very compelling reminder to Canada about the impact of Indian Residential Schools on our Indigenous population.
100 Years of Loss Website on Indian Residential Schools
100-years-of-loss
100-years-of-loss

Originally a folk singer and politician by the name of Willie Dunn wrote a song in 1972 “Charlie Wenjack” to tell the story on his debut self-titled album.
Walk on, little Charlie
Walk on through the snow.
Heading down the railway line,
Trying to make it home.
Well, he’s made it forty miles,
Six hundred left to go.
It’s a long old lonesome journey,
Shufflin’ through the snow.

He’s lonesome and he’s hungry,
It’s been a time since last he ate,
And as the night grows bolder,
He wonders at his fate.
For his legs are wracked with pain
As he staggers through the night.
And he sees through his troubled eyes,
That his hands are turning white.

Lonely as a single star,
In the skies above,
His father in a mining camp,
His mother in the ground,
And he’s looking for his dad,
And he’s looking out for love,
Just a lost little boy by the railroad track
Heading homeward bound.

Is that the great Wendigo
Come to look upon my face?
And are the skies exploding
Down the misty aisles of space?
Who’s that coming down the track,
Walking up to me?

Her arms outstretched and waiting,

Waiting just for me.




Walk on, little Charlie,
Walk on through the snow.
Moving down the railway line,
Try to make it home.
And he’s made it forty miles,
Six hundred left to go.
It’s a long old lonesome journey,
Shufflin’ through the snow.

– Willie Dunn
The following link to the Maclean’s Magazine 1967 article by Ian Adam, tells how Chanie Wenjack’s body was discovered by the side of railway tracks in Northern Ontario, after he tried to escape Indian Residential School
The Lonely Death of Chanie Wenjack, Maclean’s article, Ian Adams, 1967
headline-macleans-article
headline-macleans-article
macleans-article
macleans-article
ian-adams
ian-adams

Recently the many artists inspired to work on the Chanie Wenjack story recognize that their interest is due to Ian Adams’ article … which brings about the question …
doea-art-offer
doea-art-offer

Gord Downie & Jeff Lemire collaborated on Secret Path. Downie wrote 10 poems converted into songs to tell Chanie’s story, while Jeff Lemire created the graphic novel to give the songs a visual representation.
(The Library has this resource)
Secret Path website
secret-path
secret-path

Author Joseph Boyden worked on a novel called Seven Matches (to be released next year) to recount the Chanie Wenjack story, however with the October deadline looming, his publisher encouraged him to release a novella first – Wenjack.
(The Library has this resource)
wenjack
wenjack

Joseph Boyden also wrote an article in Maclean’s magazine, October 21st, 2016, to explain how Chanie Wenjack’s story chose him …
How Chanie Wenjack chose Joseph Boyden
how-chanie-chose-boyden
how-chanie-chose-boyden

Metis filmmaker Terril Calder worked hard on her haunting stop motion film with the working title
//The Charlie Project//
the-chanie-project
the-chanie-project

Also, the DJ collective and genius music makers A Tribe Called Red included some spoken word tracks on their album We Are The Halluci Nation, dedicated to the young boy.
A Tribe Called Red
a-tribe-called-red
a-tribe-called-red
halluci-nation
halluci-nation


Historica Canada produced a Heritage Minute about Chanie Wenjack featuring Chanie’s sister Pearl who survived Indian Residential School.
Chanie Wenjack Heritage Minute
heritage-minute
heritage-minute

This can help you explore Chanie Wenjack’s tragic story. Let it help us as we move forward in Reconciliation.