What would you do with $50 million dollars?

What would you do with $50 million? I would have done exactly what Kirby and Marie Fontaine did. I would have left the rez. I would have surely rented the best limo from Arizona Sedan And Limo Service.

But I wouldn’t leave home forever. Just long enough to formulate a financial plan, a media statement and develop my own social assistance office.

Kirby and Marie left Sagkeeng First Nation in a limousine, bound for Winnipeg to collect their $50 million jackpot from the Friday night LottoMax draw. It was the second largest lottery prize in Canadian history.

It’s a small world, I tell ya. By Saturday evening, their entire rez knew. My family, which is once-removed from the Fontaines, knew by dinner time on Saturday. We were celebrating and we didn’t even know the guy.

The reserve is a pretty small place. Even Sagkeeng, one of the largest communities in Manitoba, everybody knows everybody. You’re pretty much related to everybody, especially if you’re a Fontaine from Sagkeeng. Kirby is a cousin of former-National Chief Phil Fontaine.

From the Camerons of Waubauskang, to the Bruyeres of Couchiching – it seems that pretty much everyone from Treaty 3 is related to the Fontaines in some way, shape or form. It used to be fashionable to be related to Phil especially if you’re a political type. In the next few days, it will be much more fashionable to be related to Kirby.

You’ll need to practice: “Hey, cousin?” in your best Smoke Signals accent.

What would I do with $50 million? I would invest it wisely. I would set aside a fund that I could manage for larger purchases and financial management – an equity fund. I would set aside a larger fund for a professional to manage – a futures fund. Finally, I would set up a trust fund for my immediately family and my children that would pay a decent wage. A living subsidy. I would expect fairly low returns on the equity fund and the family trust. I would expect a higher rate of return on the futures fund.

Sure I would do some travelling, buy a new home and a new car.

Let’s dream together. Rome, Paris, Jerusalem, Tokyo, Peru, Egypt. And there’s a whole lot of the Carribean to cover: The Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominican, Aruba, Jamaica, Mexico, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Vincent, St. Lucia.

Fancy cars… nah, that’s not me. Maybe a Cadillac.

I would buy a nice home in suburban Toronto for my family, and build a nice new home on the rez. The Toronto home would have a pool. They would be homes befitting a Duchess and her Duke.

I would also pay off my family’s debts. I’m sure the Fontaine’s are going to do just that. The question is: who is going to qualify as “Family” (upper-case, and in quotations) when you have such a large family?

Here’s where the social assistance office fits in. I’m speaking facetiously of course. But you will need to develop policy and criteria. You’ll have to set up a system of payments and reporting. You will have to set a budget and likely have to keep books.

But giving out money doesn’t keep friends as it will likely alienate those who don’t get it. Saying ‘no’ to everybody doesn’t work either. Just see how well that goes. It may be something that works in downtown Winnipeg, but when you come back home to Sagkeeng it likely won’t go over that well. We’re Indians and we’re supposed to share.

Consider sponsoring a community feast and implement a soup line with wads of $100 bills to go around. Or establish a community foundation. Call it the Family Support Project. Not a very big one, just enough to keep the heat off until you’ve build your own gated community.

Sadly, a lottery win of this magnitude changes lives forever. Many people don’t cope very well. For those with addictions, which many Anishinaabe suffer from, access to unlimited money is a death curse. Many others will just piss away their fortune with no long term financial goals.

And what is it with cars? I’ve seen Anishinaabe take lottery winnings and buy cars for every day of the week. I’ve seen Anishinaabe get jobs and celebrate by buying cars. Open up a smoke shop and all of a sudden, you’ve got multiple cars lining up the driveway.

Kirby and Marie left in a limousine. I wonder what they’ll be driving when they get home?

How many rez cars can you buy for $50 million?



  1. T says:

    lol…We’re Indians and we’re supposed to share.

  2. Nona says:

    They left in a limousine because Manitoba lotteries sent one for them. And nobody is ENTITLED to that money except them, but knowing the people they are they will spend it wisely, and share with their families. They are both sober, clean-living people and I know they will make good decisions. I am, however, worried about all the people who will visit them with their hands out.

    • Bob Goulais says:

      I completely agree. The reference to a social assistance office and a community foundation is tongue-in-cheek. In an ideal world, they should have the freedom to do with it what they want and as they see fit. Seen them on the news and they both seem to be really nice people. Good to see that they are sober and clean-living. I’m so happy for them.

  3. Len Whitney says:

    Congradulations Kirby & Marie Fontaine!!,
    You Have all the Best wishes being sent your way..It’s about time that someone desent won the “Jack Pot”.For all those people who show up at your door step with their hands out….”Shame on YOU!”..Kirby and Marie choose who to help..they spend the money in the way they see fit.I’ve read allot of crap over the internet about the leader of the community phoning them(before they even got their check)”I think you should give some to the community eahh?”
    WTF???…I surely didn’t see anyone helping Kirby after his stroke!!..Even the CTV News mentioned that.I think it’s a Total SHAME that the community
    would jump in that quick and start asking before the Fontaines even got it in writting in the bank…
    Once again…CONGRADULATIONS!!! Kirby & Marie you both deserve that win…spend it how you see fit!!!.
    your Friend
    Len Whitney
    Soul Productions Photography

  4. paula says:


  5. I would like to congratulate you on your winnings! obviously you have won for a reason…things always happen for a reason to good people..never let anyone tell you otherwise..there will be some people that will be resentful but you know what? it just makes you stronger and more determined…I know you will spend the money wisely. God Bless!

  6. Julianna Johnston says:

    Dear Marie and Kirby, I just wanted to say congratulations to you both on your winning and tell you how you have inpressed me with how unselfish you are helping others. It is that “pay it forward” additute that really shines and it is so refreshing. We all dream about winning the lottery and you two were really blessed. You are living a real dream. I hope that Kirby’s health is inproving and that your family continues to prosper in many ways. I don’t know you and only wanted to let you know that you are a shining example by your actions since winning the lottery. May God bless you and shine his face upon you and your kids. Julianna