Chancellor, Brock University, Award-winning Artist, Actor and Film Director
As a member of the Cree Nation, Shirley Cheechoo was born in Eastman, Quebec, and moved to Moose Factory, Ontario when she was a young girl. It was there that she was separated from her family and sent to several residential schools in Northern and Southern Ontario.
Shirley went on to become an alumna of the prestigious Canadian Film Centre, Sundance Film Institute and the Banff Centre. She is the first, First Nation female to write, produce and direct a dramatic feature film. Shirley is the recipient of the 2008 National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Arts, and has received over 21 awards and recognition for her feature films, television movie, documentaries, and short films. She was conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Letters, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON. Shirley was motivated by what she deems as her "frustration" as a mother and as a native woman, in seeing the constant failure of Aboriginal people to thrive and live, dream and hope. She decided to do her part in changing that through film and television. She founded De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group and Weengushk Film Institute.
Shirley was appointed as Chancellor of Brock University in 2015. She continues to use artistic expression as a way to channel her past experiences in-and-out of the residential school system. Healing from these experiences has been a personal lifelong journey, but it is artistic expression which has had the most significance and influence of who and where she is today.