Commemorating the life of Chief Big Bear

Chief Big Bear, a Cree leader during the Northwest Rebellion, died today and is noted for his life of resistance to dependency. Big Bear opposed the reserve system and held out on Treaty 6 because of the effects he believed they would have on his people.
Published on January 17, 2013

Chief Big Bear was an important Cree leader who died today in 1888.

The Frontier Centre honours the life and legacy of Chief Big Bear by naming its annual Aboriginal Governance Index award after him.

This is Chief Big Bear’s courageous story.

Historically, Big Bear is noted for his involvement in the Northwest Rebellion, but he is also noted for his resistance to the imposition of the reserve system and even resisted signing Treaty 6 until the starvation of his people caused him to succumb to pressure. Big Bear noted that the reserves would create dependency in years to come.

Big Bear, to non-Aboriginal officials during his day, was noted for his fierce sense of independence and self-reliance.

A Frontier Centre commentary released during the last Assembly of First Nations (AFN) leadership race, urged candidates to find their “inner Chief Big Bear.”

People involved in the Idle No More movement as well as those AFN representatives involved in talks with the federal government right now should also call upon the spirit of Chief Big Bear in finding solutions that stress eventual independence and unity.




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