Tag Archives: Gord Downie

First Nations Leaders Mourn Passing of Tragically Hip Frontman Gord Downie

Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem tour, July 2016.

Gord Downie remembered for raising awareness of Indigenous issues

Canadian singer Gord Downie, 53, has passed away from terminal brain cancer.

Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, was diagnosed with cancer in December 2015.

“Last night Gord quietly passed away with his beloved children and family close by,” said a statement posted on thehip.com.

Downie united a diverse array of music lovers with his commanding stage presence and Canadiana-laced lyrics.

Downie was also an advocate for First Nations people.

On Wednesday, Indigenous leaders praised Downie’s contribution to reconciliation as they mourned the musician’s death.

According to CBC News Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler released a statement in the wake of the announcement of Downie’s death.

“Words cannot express our sorrow and our thoughts and prayers are with Gord’s brothers Mike and Patrick, and all of their family and friends,” Fiddler was quoted as saying in a written release. “My dear friend took the country by storm last year with his heartfelt call to action, and exposed dark truths about this country like no one before him.”

In December 2016, Downie was honoured at an Assembly of First Nations gathering for his work highlighting the impact of residential schools.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde presented Downie with an eagle feather and he was given a Lakota spirit name, Wicapi Omani, which can be roughly translated as “Man who walks among the stars.”

Gord Downie is presented with a blanket during an honouring ceremony at the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. Dec 6, 2016.

Downie’s concept album, Secret Path, tells the story of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack, who died in 1966, while trying to escape from a residential school near Kenora, Ont.

The album, accompanied by a graphic novel and film, shone a spotlight on a topic that Downie believed had been ignored for too long.

First Nations leaders and artists alike expressed gratitude to Downie for the recognition of the legacy of residential schools and his call for all Canadians to learn the stories of the thousands of children who died there.

“I am honoured and humbled to support the Secret Path project,” Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson said.

“When you have someone with that fortitude and passion to speak out on our behalf it’s this overwhelming feeling of gratefulness because he can touch different audiences that we can’t,” Tanya Tagaq told VICE

Isadore Day, the Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief of Ontario, echoed this sentiment.

“I felt very grateful that someone of his stature would take to the cause and really lift up our people through his music and his stellar reputation.”

“I honour the life and work of Gord Downie, a dedicated and accomplished artist who used his profile to advance reconciliation and build support for First Nations peoples,” Bellegarde said Wednesday in a statement.

In June, for his work raising awareness of Indigenous issues, Downie received the Order of Canada (Canada’s highest honour for a civilian), he was appointed to the Order.

Downie’s death is an “incredible loss to Canada”, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said as she thanked him for the role he played in reconciliation.

Governor General David Johnston pins the order of Canada on Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also released a statement about Downie’s passing.

“Gord did not rest from working for the issues he cared about, and his commitment and passion will continue to motivate Canadians for years to come.”

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to Gord’s family, friends, bandmates and crew members, and his many, many fans. He will be sorely missed.”

Gord Downie’s Secret Path in Concert will make its broadcast premiere on Sunday, October 22 at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC TV and streaming at cbc.ca/arts/secretpath, commemorating the 51st anniversary of Chanie Wenjack’s death.

By: Black Powder, RPM Staff

Indigenous Leaders Applaud Tragically Hip Frontman ‘Gord Downie’ For First Nations Advocacy

The Tragically Hip's Gord Downie performs during the first stop of the Man Machine Poem Tour at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, B.C., Friday, July 22, 2016. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie performs during the first stop of the Man Machine Poem Tour at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, B.C., Friday, July 22, 2016. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Canadian Press, August 23, 2016

Leaders of Canada’s indigenous community say they feel stunned and grateful to Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie for training the spotlight on issues plaguing First Nations.

Downie spoke passionately of struggles in Canadian native communities during what was widely presumed to be the iconic band’s final performance on Saturday in Kingston, Ont.

Addressing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was in the audience to take in the show, Downie expressed fears that Canada’s beleaguered indigenous peoples are perhaps in more dire straits today than they have ever been.

The singer, who’s battling terminal brain cancer, said he believed Trudeau could help bring about meaningful change and called upon Canadians to be more mindful of northern affairs.

Indigenous leaders say Downie’s assessment is accurate and thanked him for taking time to speak up for their communities in the midst of his own struggle.

They say Downie’s words are yet another powerful call for change that they hope both politicians and regular citizens will heed.

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