Manitobans celebrate the life of Vince Fontaine

WINNIPEG –

Manitobans gathered to celebrate the life of Vince Fontaine, an icon in Manitoba’s music and Indigenous communities.

Band members from Eagle & Hawk and Indian City performed in the Oodena Circle at The Forks to bid farewell to their friend.

Fontaine passed away suddenly on Tuesday at the age of 60 due to a heart attack.

His niece, and MLA for St. Johns, Nahanni Fontaine, said it was important for the family to bring the community together in his honour.

“It was through his music that he tried to connect community. That was the most important thing. That was the motivation for the work that he did and the music he produced.”

Fontaine was a staple of the Indigenous music community in Manitoba and across Canada. He released more than ten albums and played around the world.

His musical talent earned him a Juno Award, and in 2012 he was inducted into the Manitoba Aboriginal Music Hall of Fame.

Nahanni said the outpour of support has helped the family through this difficult time.

“We’ve gotten messages from everywhere here in Manitoba, Winnipeg, and across Canada. But I’ve received messages as far as Germany and Austria.”

Jay Bodner is a singer and rhythm guitar player for Eagle & Hawk and played alongside Fontaine for 25 years.

He said throughout his career, Fontaine worked hard to bring Indigenous music to the forefront.

“Not just from Winnipeg, but throughout North America. Pushing Indigenous music into the mainstream, and that’s been one heck of a job.”

The musical performances drew a big crowd as the band played songs from Fontaine’s 25-year catalogue.

“We’re going to try to span right from 1997 to the current Indian City album today in ten songs,” said Bodner.

Nahanni said one of Fontaine’s gifts was his compassion for others and the love and support he gave to all who knew him.

“He was the rock of our family, and he was always there for us, like he’s always been there for the community, and he’s going to be deeply, deeply missed.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Fontaine’s wife and three children cover the costs associated with the burial.

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