SAULT STE.MARIE—Following in the footsteps of a number of great entertainers who have hailed from his home community of Wikwemikong, local country music favourite Robbie Shawana stepped onto the stage at the Northern Ontario Country Music Association inductions this past weekend to accept his entry into the Great Northern Opry.
Mr. Shawana’s introduction included a note that he began his musical career as part of the popular Island band The Chiefs, so named because it held within its ranks three members who had actually served their community as chiefs. Mr. Shawana himself has served on the band council in his community. Today he fronts his own band and is a popular entertainer on Manitoulin.
Two Manitoulin inductees, Hardy Peltier and Eugene Manitowabi, delivered both their congratulations and regrets on the occasion of Mr. Shawana’s induction through the offices of Northern Ontario Country Music Association’s Manitoulin representatives Glen and Beth McDougall, who met Mr. Shawana onstage to present his ring.
“I am not sure who was more nervous, myself or my guitar because in coming here, I literally broke my G-string,” quipped Mr. Shawana as he prepared to give his acceptance speech.
Mr. Shawana thanked his family and community in accepting his award. “It is a real honour and pleasure to join the ranks of the Northern Ontario Country Music Association,” he said before strapping on his guitar to entertain the folks at the induction ceremony.
“‘We do what we love because we love what we do’, is something one of the other inductees said,” noted Mr. Shawana. “It is a lifestyle that some don’t understand. I want to thank my wife Denise for being there for me and understanding this lifestyle. I will continue to do my best to make Wikwemikong and the rest of Manitoulin proud!”
Joining Mr. Shawana in this year’s crop of inductions were Terry Little of Parry Sound; Don Delorme of North Bay; Marcel Goselin of Timmins; Robert Marin of Timmins; Dennis Jacques of Blind River; Hugh Allan of Sault Ste. Marie; Fred Pelletier of Sault Ste. Marie and Gord Gibson of Sudbury.