News / Halifax

Downie Wenjack Legacy Room coming to Halifax City Hall

A boardroom in Halifax City Hall will be turned into a space where people “will have the opportunity to learn the story of Chanie Wenjack."

Halifax City Hall

Jeff Harper/Metro / Halifax Staff

Halifax City Hall

A Halifax City Hall boardroom will soon be turned into a Downie Wenjack Legacy Room after a vote by regional council on Tuesday.

Despite a failed request for deferral and some concerns from councillors, the vote was unanimous in favour of turning the main floor boardroom at City Hall into a space where people “will have the opportunity to learn the story of Chanie Wenjack, the history he represents, and be inspired to act in the name of Reconciliation.”

Wenjack was an Anishinaabe boy who died running away from a residential school in Kenora, Ont. in 1966 at the age of 12. Wenjack was the inspiration for Gord Downie’s Secret Path project, and in 2016, Downie started the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund in his memory.

Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Morley Googoo came up with the idea of legacy rooms, and there are five already in Halifax.

“I just that think this is an opportunity for us to say that we care about this and we want to learn from it and we want to be part of the solution,” Mayor Mike Savage said after council’s vote.

The municipality will donate $25,000 to the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund, though the money is used for national, not necessarily local work.

According to a staff report, HRM will consult with the local Mi’kmaq community “on the intent, operation and opening” of the legacy room, which is also expected to feature Indigenous art.

Coun. David Hendsbee moved to defer the decision pending a new staff report due to undetailed, yet “credible” e-mails that many councillors received in the run-up to the vote.

HRM Indigenous advisor Wyatt White said he’d seen e-mails from the same sender, and deemed them unworthy of response.

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