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‘We lost our hero’: Family remembers Red River Métis music legend Ray St. Germain

June 26, 2024

APTN News: The legendary Métis musician and on-air personality, Ray St. Germain, has passed away a month shy of his 84th birthday.

St. Germain’s wife, Glory, broke the news of his passing via Facebook on Tuesday, mentioning he went quietly after years of dealing with the effects of Parkinson’s disease.

“We spent our lives filled with music, love and laughter with our five children,” she said in the Facebook post.

For decades prior to his Parkinson’s diagnosis, St. Germain rocked out on stage singing country songs and entertaining the masses with his longstanding television and radio career on shows like Big Sky Countryand Métis Hour x2.

Less than three weeks ago, his legacy was honoured with the renaming of his childhood street to Big Sky Country Way, where the house his father built for them still stands. The road also ends near the cemetery where his parents are laid to rest.

It was that event where he unexpectedly sang an Elvis Presley song, It’s Now or Never, in what is now his last public performance.

“So many friends, so many relatives. Thank you so much for everything,” said St. Germain at the time to a tearful crowd with a proud Glory at his side.

Ray St. Germain
Family and friends of Ray St. Germain at a news conference in Winnipeg on Wednesday. Photo: Sav Jonsa/APTN.

At a news conference in Winnipeg on Wednesday, Glory shared her cherished memories of their 50 years together.

“Ray sang to me every day, and we danced every day,” remembered Glory, “I’m so honoured that, you know, his music will continue to inspire people to sing, to praise their heritage, and to move forward with love and compassion.”

His daughter, Sherry, told those in attendance that her dad was a spiritual person. As he passed away, St. Germain held a crystal that Sherry’s best friend brought “so we could have his energy forever.”

“He was a jokester and a prankster,” said Sherry about her father, “He loved bringing joy to people.”

A good example of St. Germain’s humour is within the title of his autobiography, I Wanted to Be Elvis, So What Was I Doing in Moosejaw?

St. Germain was recognized by the Aboriginal Order of Canada in 1985 and was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010 for his contribution to Canadian music and Indigenous culture.

“Our [Red River Métis] nation is in mourning, there is not a question about it. We lost our legend, we lost our hero,” said close friend and Manitoba Métis Federation President David Chartrand.

St. Germain performing in an undated photo.

St. Germain was a proud of his culture, writing the iconic song I’m Mighty Proud to be Métis.

Chartrand said St. Germain was sharing his culture without fear during a time when many people couldn’t.

“That was the 1970s [when] that song was sung by him and written by him,” said Chartrand, “think about history – not many people were proud to be Métis then.”

Glory said that she was surprised when the ailing St. Germain decided to sing at his street naming ceremony earlier this month.

“It was his last hurrah to say, ‘I love you, I love everyone, and thank you for sharing the music, and music feeds the soul,’” said Glory.

She said that St. Germain always dreamed big, but was a very humble man in both his public and private life.

“The man that you all know and love? That’s the man that I know and love too,” she added.

St. Germain was known as Winnipeg’s Elvis for his soulful voice, and just like the King of Rock, his legacy will live on forever.

“It’s now or never, come hold me tight. Kiss me my darling, please be mine tonight. Tomorrow it will be too late, it’s now or never, my love won’t wait…” sang St. Germain one last time at the street naming ceremony.

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Sav Jonsa,