The Tragically Hip Come Home
Summer 2016 was peppered with events we are not likely to forget – the craziest US Presidential election in recent memory, the great Kim-Taylor-Kanye feud, and, of course, Harambe, may he rest in peace. But for Canadians, this summer will be remembered forever as the summer of the Hip.
Gord Downie’s announcement of incurable brain cancer and one final tour for the weirdest and yet most quintessentially Canadian band, was greeted with an outpouring of love from all corners, none more so than from their hometown of Kingston.
After 15 shows in 10 cities, the tour culminated with one final performance in the place it all began: Kingston, Ontario. Broadcast for the whole country on CBC, the event spilled out of the seats of K-ROC and into the streets of Kingston. The fervour was palpable, with nary a dry eye in front of City Hall as the band played one last encore.
For 2L Jacob Baziuk, who saw the show in the crowd at City Hall, the moment was one to remember. “The square was really buzzing and completely packed”, he said, adding that the Prime Minister’s appearance was a welcome one. “It was an interesting moment when Trudeau arrived and walked through downtown. Nice to see the Prime Minister here showing support like that. It was definitely a great night for Kingston.”
However, this is not the last we’ve heard from Gord Downie. Soon after the end of the tour, Downie announced a new album called Secret Path. As much as Canadians take pride in the Canadian institution that is the Tragically Hip, we also have to be aware that there are other Canadian institutions that have deeply troubling legacies. Downie draws attention to just such an issue in his new album. The album is inspired by Chanie Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died of exposure while fleeing an Ontario Residential School in 1966.
Proceeds from the album are to go to The Gord Downie Secret Path Fund For Truth and Reconciliation. Downie writes on the Secret Path website that he is trying “in this small way” to spread Murray Sinclair’s message – that “This is not an Aboriginal problem. This is a Canadian problem.”
It’s probably fair to say that not all Canadians have embraced reconciliation, or may not know how. For Gord Downie to use his considerable influence to bring attention to this issue is admirable. If this album is the catalyst for even one person to commit themselves to the pursuit of reconciliation, then it’s hard to imagine a better gift that Gord could have given Canadians.
Sakshi Sharma (2L) is the Culture Editor for Juris Diction.