The band had planned to donate to the fund following the conclusion of their Arms of a Dream tour, but were set back after being involved in a horrific van crash on Tuesday morning.
Fortunately the band members faced only minor injuries. Their van and trailer were totalled, resulting in an uninsurable loss of more than $8,000.
In an attempt to share the support they received, the band released a cover of the Hip’s Bobcaygeon to support the cause. Frontman Reuben Bullock has since set a goal of $8,000 and committed to donating half of the proceeds to the Downie Wenjack Fund.
WATCH: Reuben and the Dark’s beautiful acoustic rendition of the Hip’s Bobcaygeon
On their way to Toronto, the worsening weather conditions caused the Reuben and the Dark van and trailer to hit black ice and flip off the Trans-Canada Highway, close to Banff National Park.
The crash involved members Brock Geiger and Ian Jarvis, as well as a musician from Nêhiyawak, the supporting band on the Arms of a Dream tour.
“We cannot express how grateful we are that no one was seriously injured,” wrote Bullock. “The vehicles were totalled and it’s a miracle that there were no other vehicles involved and that everyone walked away.”
Fortunately, the three made it to Toronto in time to finish the Canadian tour.
Bullock started a GoFundMe campaign to support both his band and the Downie Wenjack Fund on Monday morning.
As of this writing, they have reached more than 10 per cent of their goal.
Downie first spoke of bridging the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples during the final Tragically Hip concert in Kingston on Aug. 16, 2018.
The show was televised nationwide and inspired what became his final solo album, Secret Path (2016).
The Downie Wenjack Fund was founded in Oct. 2016. Downie’s vision was to raise awareness about the troublesome living conditions in Indigenous communities in Canada’s north.
It also commemorates the late Chanie Wenjack, a young boy who died in Oct. 1966 after running away from the harsh treatment from the staff of Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ont. He died of starvation.
All proceeds are used to help improve the lives of Indigenous youth nationwide by providing safe spaces and opportunities.
Donations can also be made through the Downie Wenjack Fund website.
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