They dazzled fans across the country last year in winning Citytv’s Canada’s Got Talent with an act that judge Martin Short described as "pure joy."
But there isn’t much to celebrate these days for members of Sagkeeng’s Finest following an incident last week on a Manitoba reserve.
Vincent O’Laney, 19, and Brandon Courchene, 19, are facing several criminal charges after RCMP pulled over their speeding vehicle in Fort Alexander. Police say they seized 15 grams of marijuana and brass knuckles, which are a prohibited weapon.
O’Lane and Courchene represent two-thirds of the performance troupe. The other member, Courchene’s brother Dallas, has not been charged with any offence.
Both men were released on promises to appear in court on July 24. None of the allegations have been proven and they are presumed innocent.
In a Facebook post, the group apologized to their fans and said they take full responsibility. But they also offered up an explanation, saying Courchene was using the marijuana for bone pain while the brass knuckles were a birthday gift from a friend.
The group told the Free Press on Monday they were meeting with their manager and may have a further statement later in the day.
Since winning the national talent show by acquiring the most votes for their unique fusion of traditional jigging, clogging and tap dancing, Sagkeeng’s Finest have been performing across the country including numerous charitable events. Members have brought a positive message to their audiences about following their dreams and never giving up.
Last May, the group received the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt from Premier Greg Selinger.
"Vince, Dallas and Brandon have inspired Canadians young and old with their electrifying live performances that are bringing traditional dance to an entirely new audience," Selinger said in a statement. "Sagkeeng's Finest are also Manitoba's finest and I'm pleased to recognize their achievement by including them into the Order of the Buffalo Hunt."
The Order of the Buffalo Hunt was founded in 1957 to recognize the outstanding and distinctive contributions of leaders in areas such as politics, business, sports and entertainment. The teenagers are believed to be the youngest members ever inducted into the order.