Assembly of First Nations honours Gord Downie for his reconciliation efforts

December 12, 2016

One of the most wonderful stories of the year—particularly in the wake of such dark news—has been Gord Downie’s work to raise awareness of Aboriginal issues and close the gap between northern communities and the rest of Canada. From calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to do right by the country’s Aboriginal communities at the Tragically Hip’s final show to releasing Secret Path, a solo record focusing on the story of Chanie Wenjack, Downie has been incredibly vocal about Canada’s treatment of First Nations people. On Dec. 6, he was honoured by the Assembly of First Nations for his reconciliation efforts.

Downie’s efforts were spotlighted by AFN Nation Chief Perry Bellegarde, with praise for the Tragically Hip frontman’s challenge to the Canadian government to rebuild relationship’s with the country’s First Nations communities. Bellegarde gave Downie an eagle feather—a sacred gift—and bestowed upon him the spiritual name of “the man who walks among the stars.” With Prime Minister Trudeau in attendance, Downie also received gifts from other visiting chiefs, among them a “star blanket.” Downie had a few words about the future of the country as well, which will celebrate its 150th birthday next July. That statement in full is below:

“Soon, in a few days, a couple of weeks, there’s 150 years that Canada wants to celebrate. I will personally then celebrate the birth of our country, celebrate the next 150 years. It’ll take 150 years or seven generations to heal the wound of the residential school, to become a country and truly call ourselves Canada. It means we must become one. We must walk down a path of reconciliation from now on. Together, and forever. This is the first day of forever. The greatest day of my life. The greatest day of all of our lives.”

You can see a clearly—and rightly—emotional Downie receive praise for his efforts via Global News’ players here.


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About the Author

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is a writer and photographer. Born and raised on the Prairies in Winnipeg, he’s slowly made his way farther and farther east, spending a few years covering music in Toronto before running clear out of country and ending up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In between, he’s made numerous detours, interviewing and photographing countless artists across North America and beyond. He heads up Amplify’s Instrumental series, where he talks with musicians about the relationships they’ve formed with their most important tools.

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