MI’KMAQ FILMMAKER SONGWRITER FOLK SINGER WILLIE DUNN DIED
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, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/music/first-nations-troubadour-willie-dunn-sang-truth-to-power/article15038007/ Photo: Verne Equinox, 9/20/2009. Permissive Use.