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Comic Book / Secret Path (2016)

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Secret Path is a Canadian Comic Book by Jeff Lemire, and part of a Canadian multimedia project centering around the Secret Path album by Gord Downie, which also includes an Animated Film.

In 1966, a young Anishinaabe boy named Chanie Wenjack (mistakenly called "Charlie" by his teachers) died next to a set of railroad tracks. He was taken from his loving family and brought to the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School. When he managed to escape, he tried to make his way back home on foot. His home was 400 miles away, but he had no way of knowing that. Thus, he had no choice but to walk.

The purpose of Secret Path is to raise awareness of the plight of Native Americans who have suffered like Chanie. In fact, the proceeds of the project went towards the Gordon Downie Secret Path Fund for Truth and Reconciliation.

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The comic was released in 2016.


Secret Path contains examples of:

  • The '60s: The comic is mainly set in 1966, during Chanie Wenjack's walk home.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: There are hints that the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School was this in Chanie's flashbacks of it. Hints include a girl being pulled away screaming by the arm by a priest, and said priest entering the student sleeping quarters at night.
  • Brown Bag Mask: Chanie and a bunch of other kids are shown wearing paper bags with various faces drawn on them. They're shown in the latter half of the comic to have been for Halloween.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The comic is presented mostly in black, white and blue. The few instances where it's fully coloured are at the beginning, in a Flashback to when Chanie was still with his family. and at the end when Chanie reunites with his family in the afterlife.
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  • The Faceless: The face of the priest at the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School is never fully seen. He's seen from the neck-down most of the time. The closest we ever get is when a branch obscures his face, but still shows his mouth.
  • Flashback: The comic has a number of flashbacks from Chanie's time, both with his family, and in the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School.
  • Happy Flashback: Chanie has one early on in the book when he thinks back to when he was living with his family.
  • Suddenly Speaking: Chanie speaks one word at the end of the book, when he says goodbye to his mortal body.

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