Saskatchewan

Kenny Shields' home town honours the Canadian rock legend with new signage

Nokomis, Sask. is honouring hometown star Kenny Shields, who died last year, with signs commemorating the musician.

Entrance will declare Nokomis, Sask., as 'Home of Canadian Rock Legend Kenny Shields of Streetheart'

Kenny Shields was the lead singer of the Canadian rock band Streetheart. He died in 2017 at the age of 69. (Lisa Guliak)

Kenny Shields of Streetheart touched the lives of thousands of people nationwide through his music and this weekend, he's being recognized in his home town of Nokomis, Sask.

The singer died in a Winnipeg hospital last year, though you can likely still hear him belting out the tunes on the radio with classic hits like "Hollywood" or their cover of the Rolling Stone's song "Under My Thumb."

The town already has a display dedicated to Shields in its museum and a painting of him hanging in the local arena. Now signs at the north and south entrance will declare Nokomis as "Home of Canadian Rock Legend Kenny Shields of Streetheart."

The sign will be placed at both the north and south entrance to Nokomis, Sask., Kenny Shields' home town.

Shields' widow Elena Anania travelled from Winnipeg to attend the unveiling of the signs on Saturday.

She says the sign is as much a tribute to his career as it is to his "remarkable spirit."

"It is so much more than his sound of voice. It's about his personality, his presence, and that's what people hear in his music," Anania said.

Kenny Shields, lead singer of classic Canadian rock band Streetheart, has died at age 69. 28:17

Anania said many friends and family have travelled from Winnipeg for the event. She said she'll be taking them to Shields' farm, showing them around Nokomis and taking them to the Nokomis museum to see the Streetheart display.

"Kenny loved Nokomis, his home town; he adored it," Anania said. "And he loved the people in Nokomis, he really does…. It's his town."

'Our small town boy'

Bonnie Decker grew up in Nokomis, her farm only a short drive away from the Shields.

She spearheaded the campaign to have the signs created when she heard of a fan who was disappointed there were none.

"Because he's our small town boy, everybody knows him," she said. "It was kind of an open invitation. Everybody in the community knew when Kenny was visiting and anyone was welcome to stop by and just say hi."

Bonnie Decker (centre) with Streetheart. Decker spearheaded the campaign to have the signs put up outside Kenny Shields' home town of Nokomis, Sask.

Decker and a small group of people from Nokomis started their quest to raise money for signage last fall but they lost steam over the winter.

Then Don Windsor heard about the plan and stepped in to help.

'What's going up is incredible'

Windsor was one of Shields' closest friends and when he saw that they wanted to put signage up, he felt compelled to help. He started a fundraising campaign on Facebook.

He was hoping to help them raise $2,000, but they ended up raising almost $5,000.

"I think we could have raised $10,000 but there wasn't the need for that," Windsor said. "What's going up is incredible, so I'm happy and I think all the people who donated will be happy, too."

It is so much more than his sound of voice. It's about his personality, his presence, and that's what people hear in his music. - Elena Anania, wife of the late Kenny Shields

Windsor is also travelling from Winnipeg for the unveiling. He said he's excited to spend the weekend with Shields' friends and family. One hundred to 200 people are expected to attend.

"What happens is you turn a sad situation into a fun one," Windsor said.

"The last thing Kenny would have wanted was us to hang around being sad. He would have wanted us to get together and have a good time."

About the Author

Ashleigh Mattern is a web writer and reporter with CBC Saskatoon, CBC Saskatchewan, and CBC North; and an associate producer with Saskatoon Morning. She has been working as a journalist since 2007 and joined CBC in 2017. Email: ashleigh.mattern@cbc.ca