Light on their feet, Sagkeeng’s Finest will grace the Stomperfest stage with their faststepping jigging routine which took Canada by storm this year, ultimately leading them to be crowned winners of Canada’s Got Talent. Hailing from the Sagkeeng First Nation, Vince O’Laney, 17, and brothers Brandon, 18, and Dallas Courchene, 17, all began dancing in their community only a few years ago.
While the young men had already been winning competitions and taking stages around the province, including performances at Asham Stomperfest, they formed the trio known as Sagkeeng’s Finest last year to participate in the largest national talent contest in Canadian television history. Their blend of traditional jigging blended artfully with modern, clogging and tap styles has created a unique and infectious style of upbeat dance.
After being cast in Winnipeg in September 2011, they participated in the live semifinals of the competition the following April against eleven other acts ranging from circus performers to beatboxers to opera singers. In their final performance, the trio danced to a mash-up of Raghav’s “Fire” and Metro Station’s “Shake It” with their fusion of styles.
Their intricate footwork and enthusiasm earned them the title of “Most Improved” as well as “Biggest Risk Taker” from the Canada’s Got Talent judges.
On May 14, 2012, Sagkeeng’s Finest was named the winner of the first-ever contest. They took home the grand prize of $100,000, a brand new Nissan GT-R, tickets for an allinclusive trip to the island of Tobago, a spot in CityTv’s New Year’s Bash and a chance to perform in a Las Vegas show.
As a result of their success, The Province of Manitoba honoured the trio with the Order of the Buffalo Hunt this spring. They are among the youngest to receive the honour, which recognizes outstanding and distinctive contributions to the life of Manitoba. After all the accolades and celebrations, the group announced that they are considering investing in a dance studio in Sagkeeng where others could learn traditional Métis jigging as they have.
An unbelievable combination of traditional jigging with a twist of modern dance, this troupe is one not to miss!
Although our Trio started only a month before the season of Canada’s Got Talent, we have always been good friends and dance partners. We were all born and raised in Sagkeeng Mb, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes north-east of Winnipeg Mb. We all started dancing at the age of about 9-10 years old. We started in a square dancing group called “Sagkeeng Elders of the Past Memorial Square Dancers” which basically symbolized that we danced for all of the elders in our community who loved to watch/do the dance. We were only taught how to do the basic step at that time and it was our decision to excel in this dance and learn other dance moves on our own. It was a bit of a challenge, but with our confidence and great effort, we became better and better. Watching dance videos online, watching other styles of dance and combining it with our own is how we excelled! After weeks of practicing, we entered a square dance competition and came out victorious.
As the years went on, we continued to practice and get better as a team and compete more, winning each time! Everywhere we danced, we put a smile on the crowds face and that is what drove us to perform even better. Positive feedback from every organizer who booked us. This is what inspired us to try out on Canada’s Got Talent.
There’s also one thing we cannot forget to mention, throughout our dancing career, there was one woman who helped us with everything from building our confidence, to making us outfits, coaching us, etc.. and for this great effort, we owe this amazing lady a great big thank you, so we want to say a great big thank you to Jolene Chippeway Without her, none of this would be possible.