Secret Path was recorded three years ago and isn’t the only effort from Gord Downie focusing on Indigenous issues.
During the Tragically Hip’s final show of their Man Machine Poem tour in their hometown Kingston on August 22, which was broadcast live around the world by the CBC, Downie spoke about the difficulties in Canada’s north. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in attendance and heard every word.
Downie said that we’ve been trained our entire lives to ignore what’s going on in First Nations communities.
"But what's going on up there ain't good,” he said. “It's maybe worse than it's ever been. It's really, really bad but we're going to figure it out.”
In 2012, the Tragically Hip travelled with Joseph Boyden to Fort Albany, a reserve in northern Ontario not too far from Attawapiskat First Nation, to play a show in a high school gym during the Great Moon Gathering education conference. Around that time, the country was looking at not just Attawapiskat in crisis but at its chief Theresa Spence who was staging a hunger strike on Victoria Island in Ottawa.
The band’s two days in Fort Albany—a snippet of which Downie shared in writing—inspired “Goodnight Attawapiskat,” a song that appeared on the Tragically Hip’s album Now for Plan A.
The video above is Downie’s performance of the song “Here, Here and Here,” a track from Secret Path, at the Basement Revue show on December 18, 2014.