Vince Fontaine remembered for his music, impact on Indigenous community
A mainstay of Manitoba’s music scene and Juno Award-winning musician Vince Fontaine died suddenly on Tuesday.
Since then, words of remembrance have flooded social media as he is being remembered for his musical contributions and so much more.
On Monday, Vince filmed a video for a sick friend. No one knew it would be one of his last performances.
“He just died suddenly, and I think our family is in quite a shock,” said Nahanni Fontaine, Vince’s niece.
Vince, a member of Sagkeeng First Nation, died of a heart attack on Tuesday at the age of 60, according to Nahanni, who is the MLA for St. Johns.
Nahanni noted that culture was always at the forefront of Vince’s music
“His vision for his music and his craft was that it was a vehicle for non-Indigenous peoples to understand the Indigenous reality in Canada,” she said.
Jay Bodner, Vince’s Eagle & Hawk bandmate of 25 years, remembers his commitment to bringing Indigenous culture into the mainstream, which was not easy for the duo in their early days.
“It was a lot of really difficult times. In the early days, we were often looked at as a bit of curiosity from the non-Indigenous world,” Bodner said.
Vince would go on to release over 10 albums, play around the world, and earn a Juno Award.
In 2012, he was inducted into the Manitoba Aboriginal Music Hall of Fame.
David McLeod, manager of NCI Radio Network, said it was an important moment of recognition.
“It was an Indigenous audience, Indigenous led. It was celebrating the fact that Vince had made such a difference and contribution and also looked out for young, up-and-coming talent,” McLeod said.
Vince is also being remembered for raising awareness on social issues that impact the Indigenous community
“Not only in the capacity as an entertainer, but as a citizen, he was more than eager to come and stand by us,” said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
While Vince will certainly be remembered for his music, friends and family say his children were his most important legacy
“He always put his family first and they’re very, very close. That love and commitment to his family and that pride in his family will live on in his children’s children and his grandchildren,” Nahanni said.
Jacquie Black, filmmaker and storyteller, was the friend Vince was making a farewell video for on Monday.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said she has also passed away.
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