Toronto, Ontario – Throughout February, buying a glass of Steam Whistle will help support one of Canada’s newest and most socially important charities.
For the second year, Steam Whistle Brewing will donate half of all profits from draught sales to the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund.
“We are honoured to work with and support an organization with the mandate to build a more inclusive Canada, and build bridges between the Indigenous communities and the rest of Canada,” says Tim McLaughlin, Vice-President of Marketing at Steam Whistle Brewing. “Gord Downie is a Canadian icon, and when he told the tragic story of Chanie Wenjack, he brought this dark chapter of our history to the national consciousness. It is important that we honour his legacy and support this important cause of building a more inclusive Canada for Everyone.”
“We are encouraged by the support from Steam Whistle and their commitment to reconciliation,” says Sarah Midanik, President and CEO of the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund. “Through leadership of companies like Steam Whistle, we are able to build greater awareness of the history and impact of residential schools. Every individual and organization across Canada can be involved in the journey of reconciliation. As we reflect on this history and our identity, we have a choice to become part of the solution and help make the way for a brighter future for Indigenous peoples.”
In 1966, at 12 years old and living at a residential school some 650 kilometres away from his family, Chanie did what so many Indigenous children in residential schools did — he ran away. For six days, he and some friends made their way north. Then he went out on his own, determined, but ill-equipped for the unforgiving terrain of Northern Ontario and the freezing temperatures, rain and snow. Chanie’s lifeless body was found by some railroad tracks, some 50 kilometres from the school he fled, on October 22, 1966.
Gord Downie saw the story in an old Maclean’s Magazine, and was inspired to “do something;” he turned the tragic tale into The Secret Path, a project that included an album, documentary and graphic novel. The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund was subsequently formed.
“A Canadian icon, Gord told us about a dark chapter in Canadian history in a way that only he could,” says Mr. McLaughlin. “We are proud to follow Gord’s lead, to ‘Do Something’ and help spread awareness about the mistreatment of Indigenous children in the residential school system.”