AUGUST 5, 2013


Born in Montreal, August 14, 1941, Dunn took up guitar at 15.  After 3 years in the army, he started playing folk and protest music in Greenwich Village.  In 1968, The Ballad of Crowfoot, his film about the 19th Century Blackfoot chief, won 7 international awards, including a Gold Hugo for best short film (1969 Chicago Internat’l Film Festival).  He also wrote Charlie Wenjack, a song based on the death of a boy fleeing a residential school.  His music backed 2 films addressing modern First Nations confrontations: Incident at Restigouche and Okanada.  Dunn was part of the First Peoples Arts Showcase tour (1998) & the Nations in a Circle spotlight (2002).  In 2004, he won a Canada Council grant to attend the WOMEX Showcase in Germany.  Dunn also painted talking sticks.  A Mohawk chief gave him his unofficial middle name – Roha’tiio (“His Voice is Beautiful”).  Dunn was inducted into the Aboriginal Walk of Honour and earned lifetime achievement recognition, Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.   He died in Ottawa. 

Source:  Noreen Shanahan, “First Nations troubadour Willie Dunn sang truth to power,” The Golbe and Mail, 10/13/2013. Retrieved 6/5/2020,
Photo:  Verne Equinox, 9/20/2009.  Permissive Use.

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