The Secret Path


What do you mean, we took them away from their families?
Why on earth would we do that? Canada is supposed to be a good place.
How far did he walk?
Why did we take him away?

When you can hardly answer these questions yourself, it can be tough to answer them for kids. Inspired by my brand-new copy of Gord Downie's The Secret Path—his album of music to accompany Jeff Lemire's incredible graphic novel—I walked into a grade five classroom and decided to teach that day's creative writing workshop on Chanie Wenjack, the 12 year-old Ojibwe boy who died trying to walk home in from a residential school in 1966. With Chanie's story in my hands, how could I talk as usual about junk pirates and dress-up monster play?

In the age of Trumpism, it's more important than ever to teach history and empathy to Canada's kids. I spoke to CKBW Radio in London, Ontario about bringing Chanie and 'The Secret Path' into classrooms—and how kids are naturally empathetic, imaginative creatures. All we have to do is ask them what they think. This is how we create a better world: by listening.