The Secret Path Live show was a recreation of the original October 2016 concert, which late Tragically Hip frontman Downie performed after revealing he had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Mike Downie says Secret Path Live was ‘powerful’ and he’d ‘love to do it again’

TORONTO — A brother of the late Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie says a weekend benefit concert performance of his “Secret Path” album was a “powerful” show and he isn’t ruling out making it an annual event, possibly in different cities.

On Saturday musical acts including Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sam Roberts, Serena Ryder, Tanya Tagaq, and Whitehorse performed a sold-out concert at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall to benefit the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund.

The Secret Path Live show was a recreation of the original October 2016 concert, which Downie performed after revealing he had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. He died on Oct. 17, 2017.

“It was so powerful, so … I would love to do it again, but maybe we’ll have to try it in a different city next year or something,” Mike Downie, who is a documentary filmmaker and co-founder of the Downie Wenjack Fund, said Sunday in a phone interview from Toronto.

“It would be great. The Downie Wenjack Fund is a national charitable organization, so it probably would be a good idea to not just keep popping up in Toronto.”

But Downie said there is no concrete plan in place to make it an annual event, noting it was a lot of work to put together.

The show marked the first time members of the “Secret Path” band — who include Kevin Drew and Kevin Hearn — had performed the album together since the 2016 show with Downie.

“I heard from a few people that they felt the presence of Gord while they were going back to these songs that they hadn’t performed since the last time, which would have been with Gord,” said Downie.

“Leading up to it it really felt like, ‘Wow, this would be pretty hard to do every year.’ Then when the show starts, it’s a really powerful experience for everybody in the audience, and halfway through the show you’re thinking ‘Oh, we have to do this again.’”

The multi-platform “Secret Path” project tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Ojibwe boy who died while trying to escape an Ontario residential school in 1966. The initiative aims to raise awareness about Canada’s history of residential schools through music, dance and art.

Saturday’s show also saw comedy star Bruce McCulloch of “The Kids in the Hall” read a letter he had written based on correspondence he’d had with Downie, with whom he was friends.

National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, performed a drum song with some of his friends.

Wenjack’s sister, Pearl, sang a prayer song while other members of the family sat in the audience.

The event capped Secret Path Week, an annual initiative involving various tribute shows and activations with the Downie Wenjack Legacy Schools Programs, which aims to support educators with lesson plans about Indigenous culture. That program started a year ago as a pilot project in 200 schools and has expanded to over 1,300 schools, said Downie.

Downie didn’t have figures on how much money was raised on Saturday but felt it was a success in achieving their goals of raising awareness about reconciliation.

“We are trying to get more and more Canadians interested, involved, committed to reconciliation, everyone in their own way,” Downie said.

“When you have a roomful of people like that, I hope it inspires Canadians from coast to coast who hear about it, who see the video that will be out there, that there’s a place for everyone in this movement and it’s going to take literally millions of us to really make a significant impact on reconciliation.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pfizer posts 4Q loss, misses Street views, on lower revenue

Drugmaker Pfizer reported a $337 million loss in its fourth quarter after… Continue reading

UK to allow Huawei equipment in 5G networks but not in ‘core’ parts

LONDON — Britain decided Tuesday to give Huawei limited access to build… Continue reading

Birds flocking to national parks in the Canadian Rockies

BANFF, Alta. — It turns out tourists aren’t the only ones who… Continue reading

Country music fans enjoy free concert at Red Deer mall, ahead of ACMA awards

Fans like to get up close and personal and that’s exactly what… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Feb. 1 A Jump Rope Competition will be held at the Abbey… Continue reading

Virus in China affects sports events, Olympic qualifiers

GENEVA — Amid growing concern at the spread of a new virus… Continue reading

Ottawa 67’s boss Andre Tourigny gets call to coach Canada’s junior team

CALGARY — After serving as an assistant coach this year for Canada’s… Continue reading

Juno Awards nominees to be unveiled for music’s big night in Saskatoon

TORONTO — The 2020 Juno Awards nominees are set to be revealed… Continue reading

Harvey Weinstein NYC sex assault trial picks up pace

NEW YORK — The closely watched #Metoo era rape trial of Harvey… Continue reading

Calgary sport school that grooms Olympic champions threatened with shutdown

CALGARY — The National Sport School in Calgary that produces Olympic and… Continue reading

Quebec to seek consensus on offering medical aid in dying to mentally ill

MONTREAL — Quebec on Monday walked back a plan to offer medical… Continue reading

GOP defends Trump as Bolton book adds pressure for witnesses

WASHINGTON — Senators faced mounting pressure Monday to summon John Bolton to… Continue reading

Most Read