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Shirley Cheechoo Actors Lounge

Dr. Shirley Cheechoo (Cree) was born in Eastmain, Quebec in 1952. Her early childhood was spent in Moose Factory, and later the family moved to Hearst, Ontario. She is married to artist Blake Debassige and they have one child. Nanoshkasheese. Memories of growing up within a warm family group have become the focal point for her expression through the medium of acrylic. Her paintings represent the personal documentation of the many experiences she shared with her large family in the north, as well as those of other Cree families lived by trapping and fishing.

In 1971 - 1972 Shirley Cheechoo attended the Manitou Arts Foundation, and this is where she felt her artistic process began. Upon being exposed to a variety of forms, techniques and disciplines by Thomas Peltier, the realization that these creative tools could and should also be tools of the Native artist opened up a world of new possibilities, and Ms. Cheechoo was determined to explore many of them. Even at this stage, she understood that providing young Native people the access to creative skills and tools would help strengthen their inner voice - as a way of beginning to overcome the myriad of challenges they would face growing up.