A music icon from Manitoba is dead.
Vince Fontaine, Juno’s award-winning member of groups such as Indian City and Eagle & Hawk, was a well-known face in the music scene, both for his own musical prowess and his decades-long focus on supporting and promoting native artists.
Fontaine’s death on Tuesday at the age of 60 has resonated across the province, with other musicians, public figures, politicians and more remembering his legacy.
“This is such a tragic loss as he was a musical beacon and a cultural ambassador for First Nations throughout North America and around the world,” said Arlen Dumas, Chief of Staff of the Manitoba Assembly of Chiefs (AMC).
“Not only did he give of his heart in the songs he wrote, but he did so by supporting so many societal events and purposes.
‘He never said no when it came to helping indigenous peoples, but he did it quietly.
“His passion for the music industry was driven by his conviction to share the beauty and importance of First Nation culture. All aspects of his art, his creativity and his advocacy connected people. When you saw that hat, everyone’s face lit up. I is so sorry that he has left this earth. He will be greatly missed. “
A member of Sagkeeng First Nation, Fontaine and his band Eagle & Hawk won a Juno for Best Music of Aboriginal Canada Recording in 2002 for their album By and by. That award was just one of many as the guitarist and songwriter’s projects won honors from the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, Western Canadian Music Awards, Native American Music Awards and many others.
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Manitoba MLA and Fontaine’s niece, Nahanni Fontaine, took to social media Tuesday to share the news of his passing.
“Vince’s love of music was only overshadowed by his speechless devotion to his family, friends and community – we who remain stunned and crushed by this great and unexpected loss,” she said.
The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra also remembered the prolific musician in a note to his subscribers.
“Our collective hearts are broken by the news that Vince Fontaine, the founder of the JUNO award-winning group Eagle & Hawk, has passed away,” they said. Mr Fontaine has worked extensively with the WSO, particularly during the WSO’s annual Indigenous Music Festival (2009-2011) with then-Music Director Alexander Mickelthwaite.
“Mr Fontaine was the festival director and a contributing part of the intention and meaning behind the event. Our condolences go to Mr Fontaine’s family and friends.
“This is a tragic loss to Manitoba’s indigenous community and to Manitoba’s music community in general.”
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