Shania Twain in Timmins, Ontario, after her parents separated when she was two, and her mother remarried to Jerry Twain, a full-blooded member of the Ojibwa First Nation.
At the age of 13, Eilleen Twain was invited to perform on CBC television's Tommy Hunter Show. During high school in Timmins, she was the vocalist for a local band "Longshot" which covered Top 40 music. When her mother and adoptive father died in a car crash on November 1, 1987, Eilleen took her two younger brothers, Mark and Darryl, and sister Carrie-Ann to Huntsville, Ontario, where she supported the family by performing at a local resort (Deerhurst resort). In 1991, after an entertainment lawyer (Dick Frank) from Nashville, Tennessee heard her act, she was invited to record a demo tape.
In 1991, when she signed her first recording contract with Richard Frank of Mercury Nashville Records, she changed her name to Shania (pronounced shu-NYE-uh) which is an Ojibwa word meaning "I'm on my way". Her step-father was a full-blooded Ojibwa and remained an important influence in Shania's life. Twain's embrace of her adoptive Ojibwa heritage has at times been reported to be controversial among Canadian First Nations, with some disagreement about whether a non-Ojibwa adopted by an Ojibwa parent can be considered a true Ojibwa. Shania Twain responded to such criticism by saying, "I don't know how much Indian blood I actually have in me, but as the adopted daughter of my father Jerry, I became registered as a 50orth American Indian ... That is my heart and my soul, and I'm very proud of it."
The city of Timmins later renamed a street for her, gave her the key to the city, and built the Shania Twain Museum (Shania Twain Centre), which Twain visited in 2004, as shown on a CTV special.