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How Gord Downie’s Secret Path could become part of P.E.I. reconciliation curriculum

Two Island educators were part of a group from across the country that met in Ottawa to develop a strategy to incorporate Secret Path and the story of Chanie Wenjack into Canada’s schools.

Secret Path started as 10 poems written by Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip. Those poems became an album, a graphic novel and an animated film.

In October 1966, 12-year-old Wenjack died after leaving his residential school near Kenora, Ont. He was trying to get home to his family, who were hundreds of miles away.

A national gathering

Geoff MacDonald and Kendra MacLaren from the Department of Education represented P.E.I. at the Oct. 17-18 meeting in Ottawa. There were 33 educators, representing every province and territory, who met with Gord Downie’s brother Mike, illustrator Jeff Lamire and the Wenjack family.

“We were contacted saying Gord Downie wants to take this on, and he has offered to take us all up to Ottawa to work on developing a resource around Secret Path and ways that we can take this resource and put it into our classrooms,” said MacDonald.

Geoff MacDonald

Geoff MacDonald says Secret Path is one of the richest resources he has seen for truth and reconciliation curriculum. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

“It is one of the richest resources that I have seen in relation to this.”

MacDonald said the hope is to have Secret Path become part of curriculum about reconciliation in Island schools.

The department has been working with the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. and teachers to help create the curriculum.

MacDonald says the expectation is that it will be used in classrooms starting this September.