Remembering Ojibwe, Sagkeeng First Nations artist Vince Fontaine

Eagle and Hawk lead singer, Indian City founder and musical artist Vince Fontaine, died at age 62 

Vince Fontaine, the Ojibwe, Sagkeeng First Nation co-founder of Eagle and Hawk and founder and frontman of the First Nations musical group Indian City, died earlier this month in Canada.

Fontaine was a widely celebrated Juno award winning artist and had performed all over the world for decades. 

As the front man for the group Eagle and Hawk — which was founded in 1994 — Fontaine released ten albums starting with the groups 1997 debut album The Dream. With Eagle and Hawk, Fontaine had performed at a plethora of world venues including the Olympic games and the New Orleans Jazz Festival. 

Fontaine’s niece Nahanni Fontaine, a member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, posted on Twitter regarding her uncle’s death, “On behalf of our Fontaine family, it is with terrible sadness and shock that I announce the sudden passing of my dear Uncle Vince Fontaine today: Tuesday, January 11, 2022.”

Fontaine’s daughter Aleah also shared the Indian City song, Star People in tribute to her father. “Missing my dad Vince Fontaine deeply this morning. Love you so much,” she posted.

Several organizations also tweeted supportive words of support to the Fontaine family to include The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and others. SiriusXM also dedicated an hour of airplay to Fontaine.

The family held a celebration of life for Fontaine, many braved the cold weather to honor Vince Fontaine.

Recently, Fontaine had re-released a 215 video tribute using their song Take Me Home highlighting the bodies of children discovered at the Kamloops Residential School. The video came from Fontaine’s album Here and Now.

According to the family, Fontaine had died from a heart attack. They posted a family obituary, included here.

Family obituary located at Winnipeg Free Press Passages:

It is with profound sadness we announce the sudden passing of Vince Fontaine on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. Vince would like us to say he was 59 (but he was 62).

A proud member of Sagkeeng Anishinaabe First Nation, Vince was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, a city and community he loved and nurtured.

Alongside his brother and sisters, Vince grew up in Elmwood hanging out with his best cousins, Alvin and Lionel, connections that remain strong to this day.

Vince’s passion for music began at a young age when his sister, Shirley, gave him his first guitar that he took to naturally and proficiently.

Vince was a much beloved musician, producer, festival curator, and mentor. Vince has been celebrated many times over for his creative direction of multi-award winning band, Eagle & Hawk, and his talented collective, Indian City. Vince’s career was abound with awards and recognition, and he remains one of Canada’s most important Indigenous composers.

Vince’s true passion and legacy lies in his ability to build bridges between people from all walks of life through his music and craft. Vince believed in, and was committed to, Reconciliation.

On any given day, Vince could often be found at the downtown YMCA playing racket ball with his longtime buddies; having tea in the backyard of Frank and Collette’s; visiting his beloved mother, Nora; eating cinnamon buns with his cousin Phil; in the studio with his friend Chris; rehearsing and playing with his musical family; or checking in on friends and family throughout the day.

Vince’s love for music was only outshone by his love and devotion to his family, friends, and community. He was so proud of his family, and in particular, his children, whom he often called his “genius kids.” Vince was the connecting nucleus for the Fontaine family and played a fatherly role in the lives of his nieces and nephews.

Vince was predeceased by his father Henry (Manish); his sisters, Sharon, Shirley, and MaryCarole; and nephew Chauncey.

Vince will be incredibly missed and his memory held dearly by his mother Nora (Nan); his wife and partner of 36 years, Dodi; his children, Aleah, Gabrielle, Joe, and Lacey (Raine, Rylan, Presley, Noah, Lachlan, and Oaklen); his brother, Larry; his nieces and nephews, Nahanni (Jonah and Niniichaanis), Tonya (Dylan and Ashten), Talia, Shauna (Ethan, Davin, and Lyla), Naomi, Robert, Justin, Zeb, Zal, and Zoe; his siblings-in-law, Steve and Nancy, Faith and Randall, and all of the Bell family.

A Celebration of Life (took) place on Sunday, January 16, 2022, at the Oodena Celebration Circle at the Forks from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. All are welcome. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bear Clan Patrol and/or Broadway Neighbourhood Centre.