Faron Hall’s family and friends gathered at Thunderbird House Tuesday afternoon to remember a man known across the city as a hero.

Hall, Winnipeg’s “homeless hero,” is known for rescuing two people from the Red River.

“He always had a smile on his face. He always turned the situation around if it was bad,” said Hall’s cousin Darcie Hall.

In 2009, Hall jumped into the Red River's icy waters to save teen Joseph Mousseau from drowning.

Then, four months later, he jumped in again to rescue two friends, but he was only able to save one.


Faron Hall is seen here receiving commendations from Manitoba's chapter of the Royal Lifesaving Society. Hall was found dead on Aug. 17 at the age of 50. (CBC)

For his efforts, he received the mayor's medal of valour and two commendations from the Royal Lifesaving Society. The day he received them, he donated $1,000 to Main Street Project, a Winnipeg homeless shelter, from a national fund for the homeless set up in his name.

Hall became an advocate for the city's homeless, who he said had a lack of support when trying to overcome addictions.

He spent the last 15 years of his life on the streets.

“He was a very humble and loving, caring man who had a lot of family who loved him,” said Darcie Hall. “He wasn’t alone. He just chose to live that lifestyle.”

She said his family is devastated over the loss.

Hall, 50, was found dead in the Red River on Aug. 17.

He had fallen into the river a few days prior and was seen in distress. An off-duty officer tried to save him with the help of a water taxi boat but couldn’t.

Police do not believe foul play was involved in his death.

More than 2,000 people attended vigil for Hall and 15-year-old Tina Fontaine days later. Fontaine’s body was recovered while police were looking for Hall.

Tuesday, his loved ones held a traditional Dakota wake at Thunderbird House with a funeral to follow Wednesday morning.

“It’s a time, we give away and honour him and share,” said Patrick Hall, his uncle.

Every three hours a sacred offering known as a setting is scheduled to be given to people in attendance – the gifts are given four times through the night, meant as a traditional way to say goodbye.

“[It’s] to honour people in his memory, to let them know that they are respected and loved by our community,” said Patrick Hall.

His family said he will be buried at Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg following Wednesday’s funeral service.