APTN National News
The body of a First Nation man dubbed “Homeless Hero” by the media was pulled from the same river Sunday where he twice saved drowning people.
Police haven’t confirmed the identity of the body but members of Winnipeg’s indigenous community say it’s Faron Hall, 49.
An off-duty police officer had spotted a man in the Red River in distress on Friday but was unable to save him.
Foul play is not suspected.
Hall’s body was pulled from the river just hours after the body Tina Fontaine, 15, was found in the same waters.
In 2009, Hall first made headlines when he dove into the icy waters of the Red River to save a drowning teenager.
“I just couldn’t see that little guy die.” Hall said.
He became known as the “Homeless Hero” in the days after the rescue and was given a bravery award by the city. Word of his heroic act even reached Parliament and MP Rod Bruinooge honored Hall in the House of Commons in 2009.
“He downplayed his actions saying, ‘I don’t think I’m a hero, I’m a human being.’” Bruinooge said at the time. “Faron, you certainly are a hero. You showed a rare example of selflessness risking your life to save another.”
Incredibly, just months later he saved one of two friends who were drowning in the same river once again thrusting him into the spotlight.
Hall had lived on the streets for seven years and struggled with alcohol addiction before first jumping into the river to save the drowning teenager. He told APTN National News that he hoped the incident was a turning point.
“I believe I gave that little guy his life back and I got to give my life back and that’s what I plan to do,” he said.
But over the years, Hall’s struggles continued and he was once hospitalized after being assaulted by people who supposedly recognized him as a celebrity. Just days before he disappeared, Hall had been released from jail for assault.
Still, many in Winnipeg are remembering Hall for his act of courage. Winnipeg’s mayor Sam Katz issued a press release calling the death of Hall a tragedy.
“He (Hall) was a humble individual who put himself last and gave the best of himself to others even while battling his own immense challenges. Most heartbreaking is that he seemed to miss seeing in himself what we saw in him: that he was a true and selfless hero deserving of honours and a good life,” said Katz.
Tributes are pouring in on social media, with some saying Hall performed one last rescue by leading searchers to the body of Tina Fontaine. People are saying the body of Fontaine was only found during the search for Hall’s body.
Police confirmed they found Fontaine while divers were searching for Hall.
A member of the Dakota Tipi First Nation, Hall grew up mainly in Winnipeg but also spent time on the Sagkeeng First Nation as a child. He was the father of four children.
A gathering to honour Faron Hall and Tina Fontaine is scheduled today in Winnipeg. People will gather at the Alexander Docks at 7 p.m. before walking to the Forks for a vigil.