News release: The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization Announce Five-Year Partnership for Orange Shirt Day
Reconciliation in action: As part of the Legacy Schools program, students at Riverdale Collegiate Institute write out the names of Indigenous children who died in residential schools.
Toronto, Ont., September 29, 2020 – The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) today announced plans to work together to create a meaningful pathway for Reconciliation.
This new five-year agreement will invest $150,000 into supporting both the Legacy Schools program and Legacy Spaces program. The partnership broadly advances Canadian learning about the history and impact of the Indian residential school system on Indigenous peoples. Both programs are an invitation for people to participate in Reconciliation.
“The DWF is an amazing organization that is building on the legacy of two incredible people (Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack) to encourage people to learn about Reconciliation and take action,” said Lisa Frizzell, Vice President of Stakeholder Relations at the NWMO. “We are proud to co-create a meaningful partnership with this organization and contribute to Reconciliation in Canada, while publicly recognizing Orange Shirt Day.”
Importantly, this announcement is made at a time of year when Canadians and Indigenous people recognize Orange Shirt Day (September 30th), which is a day that honours those Indigenous children that were forcibly taken from their families and sent to residential schools. Sadly, more than 6,000 Indigenous children died at residential schools.
With support from the NWMO, the Legacy Schools program provides free toolkits to teachers in schools across Canada, including educators in areas where the NWMO is active: South Bruce and Ignace, Ontario. Among its resources, the Legacy Schools toolkit features a graphic novel called Secret Path, which tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who died in 1966 after escaping a residential school and trying to walk 600 kilometres home.
In addition to its Legacy Schools program, DWF is also recognized for its Legacy Spaces program that offers the opportunity for organizations to play an important role in their communities by creating safe, welcoming places dedicated to education and spreading awareness about Indigenous history and Reconciliation.
“We are so grateful to extend our partnership with the NWMO,” said Sarah Midanik, President & CEO of DWF. “This five-year commitment will support exponential growth in the Legacy Schools program to more schools and communities. The NWMO has already demonstrated commitment to moving Reconciliation forward, and we’re excited to partner with them to create a Legacy Space to continue this important work."
Currently, the NWMO is planning its own Legacy Space at its office in Toronto.
“Our Legacy Space will further support staff in being able to actively see their role in Reconciliation as part of interweaving Indigenous Knowledge into all of NWMO’s work, by embedding Indigenous teachings into the workplace,” said Jessica Perritt, Section Manager, Indigenous Knowledge and Reconciliation at the NWMO.
About the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund
The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) was created out of two families coming together to make change, uphold Chanie and Gord’s legacies, and create a pathway on the journey toward Reconciliation. Each year, DWF hosts its annual event “Secret Path Week” that spreads awareness about their programming. This year, virtual events will be held online from October 17- 22. For more information, to support and donate today, please visit www.downiewenjack.ca
About the NWMO
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is implementing Canada's plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel. The organization was created in 2002 by Canada's nuclear electricity producers. Ontario Power Generation, NB Power and Hydro-Québec are the founding members, and along with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, fund the NWMO's operations. The NWMO operates on a not-for-profit basis and derives its mandate from the federal Nuclear Fuel Waste Act.
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Regional Communications Manager – Indigenous