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Shirley Bear

Shirley Bear

Tobique First Nation artist, poet and activist
Shirley Bear
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Tobique First Nation artist, poet and activist
Is Poet Writer
From Canada
Type Literature
Gender female
Birth 16 May 1936
Age: 84 years
Star sign TaurusTaurus
The details


Shirley Bear (born May 16, 1936) is a Tobique First Nation artist, traditional herbalist, poet, and activist. She is an original member of the Wabanaki language group of New Brunswick.


The daughter of Susan Paul-Bear and Noel Bear Jr., she was born on the Negootgook reserve in New Brunswick, attended the Collège Maillet in Saint-Basile and went on to study photography and painting in New Hampshire. In 1968, she received a Ford Foundation fellowship.


Her work has appeared in exhibitions at the Clement Cormier Gallery in Moncton, at the Université Saint-Louis in Edmundston, as well as in group exhibitions in Canada and the United States. Her work is included in the collections of the National Indian Art Centre, the University of Moncton, and the Canadian Museum of History's permanent collection.

Many of her famous pieces, all held at the New Brunswick Art Bank, include Crane Woman, Abenaki Woman, and Moose with a Woman's Spirit.

In 1990, she was curator for a touring exhibition of art by native women, Changers: A Spiritual Renaissance.

She was the subject of a short National Film Board film Minqwon Minqwon by Catherine Martin which was produced in 1990. Bear advocates for work to be done in attaining the peaceful existence that existed between men and women in North America before the arrival of the Europeans.


Shirley Bear has been a longtime advocate for the rights of Indigenous women. In 1980, Bear became involved with the Tobique Women's Group, starting with activities at the Big Cove Reserve involving the unjust treatment of single mothers and housing. Later in the year, Bear was invited the Tobique Women's Group to participate in a meeting of Aboriginal women interested in establishing a political body that would represent Indigenous women from the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

Awards and Honors

In 2002, she received the New Brunswick Arts Board's Excellence in the Arts Award.

In 2011, she was named to the Order of Canada.


Her work includes a variety of anthologies, including The Color of Resistance: A Contemporary Collection of Writing by Aboriginal Women.

Some of her well-known books include:

  • Nine Micmac Legends, Alden Nowlan; Illustrations: Shirley Bear
  • Enough is Enough (1987)
  • Everywoman’s Almanac (1991)
  • The Colour of Resistance (1993)
  • Kelusultiek (1994)
  • Virgin Bones / Belayak Kcikug'nas'ikn'ug (2006) which was her own collection of artwork, poetry, and other political pieces (published by McGilligan Books).
    • Some of her well-known pieces from Virgin Bones include:
      • Freeport, Maine
      • History Resource Material
      • Baqwa'sun Wuli, Baqwa'sun
      • September Morning
      • Fragile Freedoms
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 13 Jul 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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