"He's just totally superhuman."

That's the way Don Speidel remembered former Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie, who he met and to whom he gifted an eagle feather during the singer's naming ceremony with the Assembly of First Nations in December 2016.

Speidel said before he met Downie, he knew the man and his band through pop culture, hearing his songs on the radio and such. However, getting to meet the singer in person was a special experience.

"He was so interested in people. He took time for people and made people feel at ease," Speidel said. "We had an instant connection."

"We called each other friends, called each other brother," he said.

Speidel spent about 45 minutes with the singer before the ceremony, which was held during the AFN's annual winter assembly in Gatineau, Que.

"What we felt in that room, it was amazing," he said of the ceremony. "It will probably be one of my greatest memories and highlights, next to my children being born."

Emotional Gord Downie honoured by AFN3:28

Indigenous ally

The feather Speidel gave Downie was attached to a hat band which was then placed on the singer's signature hat. Downie wore the feather afterwards and it showed that he was an ally of Indigenous people, Speidel said.

Going into the ceremony, he was emotional because he knew Downie "may be called home way earlier than he should've."

Downie, who had been battling brain cancer, died Tuesday night after being diagnosed in early 2016.

Don Speidel

Don Speidel met Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie in 2016, describing him as 'superhuman.' (CBC News)

When asked how he felt about the singer's death, Speidel said: "I think it's more of a celebration — because I had a chance to meet him. I'll cherish that time."

During the last months of his life, Downie spoke out in support of Indigenous people, and was known as a proponent of reconciliation.

To Speidel, the man was more than just an advocate.

"I think he was a conduit or a Godsend of some kind."

gord downie AFN Meeting 20161206

Gord Downie speaks during a ceremony honouring him at the AFN Special Chiefs assembly in Gatineau, Que., on Dec. 6, 2016. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

With files from Bridget Yard