Curtis "Shingoose" Jonnie ~Celebration of Life

Curtis “Shingoose” Jonnie, October 26, 1946 ~ January 12, 2021

Please join our family in remembering a legend, and trail blazer in the North American music community. Dad passed away on Jan.12 2021 from COVID. Family and friends are planning a celebration of life concert/festival when COVID is over. Maybe it will be an annual event, showcasing the amazing Indigenous talent from across the country. Goose would have loved a chance to bring our community back together on an epic scale in celebration with music, peace and love. He spent his life and career bringing people together through music. "Music heals the people."

Curtis Jonnie, Ojibway from Roseau River Anishnaabe First Nation Manitoba, Treaty 1, has made his journey home to the spirit world at age 74, passing from COVID-19. He is reunited with his mother Grace Hage, and daughter Joelle Jonnie. With his dear friends Terrance and Sarah by his side before cremation. His late best friend and comedian Charlie Hill has him up there somewhere, scheming jokes already. 

Curtis is survived by his 4 children and 7 grandchildren; sons Micha Jonnie (unknown whereabouts), Elliot Peatquoam Jonnie; Daughters Nahanni Shingoose-Cagalj (Steve) and Ahzbek Jonnie, all currently residing near Toronto, ON. He is also survived by his siblings Tanis Wichmann (Steve), and Clay Hage (Cathy) and their families in the United States. There is also one other male sibling his children would be happy to hear from (unknown name).

His surviving beloved grandchildren; (Micha) Gerald, Micheal, Stephanie, (Peat) Brianna, (Ahz) Darealis, (Nahanni) Sage and Ziibii.

He is pre-deceased by his five-year-old daughter, Joelle Jonnie. They are singing and dancing, forever guardian angels watching over the family.

Curtis was a 60’s scoop survivor. He was adopted at age 4, in 1950 to a German Mennonite family. He spoke Anishnaabomowin for the first four years of his life, and German for the next four. At age 15, he was sent to boarding school in Nebraska, where he joined the choir. This is where he was introduced to music. He harnessed his experiences, and used his resilience as survival. Dad spoke often of the American Indian Movement, and was inspired to make social change through his song.

Curtis had an amazing career in the music and arts community and left a significant legacy. He was a grass roots folk musician who trail blazed the way for Indigenous artists and musicians, being inducted to the Manitoba Aboriginal Music Hall of Fame in 2012, and his Grammy nomination in 2016 for his part in the album compilation, Native North America Volume 1 (defeated by Bob Dylan). Goose also played alongside, Bruce Cockburn, Winston Wuttnee, Tom Jackson, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Duke Redbird, Alanis Obomsawin, and many amazing Indigenous artists. The song, Silver River was recorded in 1975, with poetry/lyrics by Duke Redbird. He and his friend and long time publicist, Sarah Peters, with Mitch Podolack, founder of the Winnipeg Folk Festival worked tirelessly promoting Indigenous music at the festival.

As a roadster, Goose always stayed connected to his family through then, post cards and land line phone calls, even though often thousands of miles apart. The intergenerational effects of his lived experiences radiate through his family. Comfort is found in knowing that he was always committed to the Indian movement, resistance, and social justice through his song, often putting music to poetry written by his close friends. He sang about the earth, the waters, and in the 1980s about the lack of political changes he had seen in his life, as in his song, “Elijah,” referring to Elijah Harper and his visions for the future of Indigenous peoples and rights. He used music to share his voice with the world, leaving behind four albums, Native Country (1975), Ballad of Norval (1979), Natural Tan (1989), and T-Bird in the Lake (2007), and three comedy specials, Indian Time 1, 2 and 3 (1980’s), the first of its kind on national T.V.

30 years ago, Goose was also instrumental in the creation of the Juno Award category for Indigenous Music Album of the year, with his long time friends Elaine Bomberry and Buffy Sainte-Marie, trail blazing the way for future generations of Indigenous musicians. 

Curtis was a resident of the Southeast Personal Care Home in Winnipeg, where he lived for the past decade, after his stroke left his left side paralyzed. He and 40 other Elders/residents at the time of his death, and 9 staff, had COVID-19.

The family would like to say a special thank you to Terrance Nelson, one of Goose’s best friends, for singing in his honour at the Morris Funeral Home before his cremation on January 12. His friend Sarah was also by his side.

Gchi Miigwech, for the care and compassion from the staff at the Southeast Personal Care Home, and to Corey at The Morris Funeral Home. They went above and beyond for the family during a global pandemic. Our prayers are with the other families of residents at the home, during this tragic time. 

Another Gchi Miigwech to Sheldon, and the Roseau River Anishnaabe Band Council for their support and guidance. 

A celebration of life will be planned on an epic scale, once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control. A zoom service at Roseau will be held on Friday January 15, by Terrance Nelson.

In lieu of flowers, a Go Fund Me campaign has been set up by the family, with proceeds going toward his end of life expenses, a celebration of life in the future, epic style, perhaps a benefit concert in his name, showcasing the talent he blazed a trail for, and/or a donation to an arts organization supporting Indigenous youth in the arts, to support his vision of the future for his people; Sovereignty, Peace and Love.

Another special thank you to Beth Azore and her family for her support during this difficult time. The links below have been a special gift to the family. 

Beth Azore on her short doc, IN A GOOD WAY, featuring Goose.

"It was my chance to capture his wisdom and experience for sharing with next generations. I believe whole heartedly in its message."

Beth Azore, on her re-mix music video, Mother Earth, by Goose.

"The song was recorded before a live audience as part of  “Indian Time” and I added some new images to the fabric. As much (if not more) relevant today!!! He was ahead of his time, no question."

Media inquiries and good ol’ stories about Goose and his legacy can be directed to Nahanni Shingoose, [email redacted]


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Nahanni Shingoose 
Stoney Creek, ON
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