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Sagkeeng's tap trio wins Canada's heart

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Sagkeeng's Finest is Canada's favourite.

The three-member dance troupe from Manitoba's Sagkeeng First Nation -- Vince O'Laney, 17, and brothers Brandon and Dallas Courchene, 18 and 16, respectively -- were crowned champions of the first season of Citytv's Canada's Got Talent. The trio topped a field of 12 finalists -- including dancers, beatboxers, a country artist, an opera singer, a rapper and a circus performer -- and earned the most votes from viewers after Sunday's final performance show.

For the final showdown, Sagkeeng's Finest performed a fusion of traditional clogging and tap-dancing, to a mash-up of Raghav's Fire and Metro Station's Shake It.

"It's amazing," O'Laney said shortly after the show, as he and his dance-troupe partners were being conveyed by limousine to CGT's wrap party. "My mind went completely blank -- I was like, 'Holy heck!' And then I started thinking about my family, and all the people across Canada who voted for us."

The win clearly came as something of an upset, as Sagkeeng's Finest advanced to CGT's final three during Monday's results show alongside two much more experienced acts -- Maritime rockers Angry Candy and Vancouver urban dance troupe FRESHH.

When host Dina Pugliese announced Sagkeeng's Finest as the show's winner, judge Measha Brueggergosman could be seen mouthing a wide-eyed "Oh, my God!"

Earlier in Monday's finale, judge Stephan Moccio described Sagkeeng's Finest as "By far, the most improved act in this competition." Fellow judge Martin Short referred to the Manitoba trio's act as "pure joy."

First prize in the inaugural season of Canada's Got Talent includes a $100,000 cash prize, a Nissan GT-R (worth more than $100,000), an all-expenses-paid trip to Tobago, a spot in Citytv's New Year's Eve Bash, and the possibility of a spot in a Las Vegas show.

"The prize money and the trip are nice, but I think the best part is knowing that people from all across Canada liked us and voted for us," said O'Laney. "It's going to be a life-changing thing for us."

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 15, 2012 C2

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