Tracy Bear Nehiyaw iskwêw (Cree woman) from Montreal Lake First Nation in northern Saskatchewan and the Director of the Indigenous Women’s Resilience Project. She has a PhD in English and Film Studies and her dissertation: Power In My Blood: Corporeal Sovereignty Through a Praxis of Indigenous Eroticanalysis won the Governor General Gold Medal award in 2016. She is an Assistant Professor cross appointed with the Faculty of Native Studies and the Dept. of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Alberta. She was the Academic Lead and Professor of Record on the hugely successful Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called ‘Indigenous Canada’. She is also involved with a Research-Creation Laboratory series project with Kim Tallbear and Kirsten Lindquist called Tipi Confessions. This project consists of a tri-annual series of erotically themed storytelling and performance based shows in Edmonton Vancouver, and Saskatoon. Tracy’s work explores how Indigenous articulations of sensuality, sexuality and gender form erotic expressions, and act as decolonizing mechanisms and addresses the question, “If this is my body, where are my stories?” Tracy argues for the recovery and what she calls, the practice of an Indigenous eroticanalysis as a reclamation of sovereignty over our Indigenous bodies.
From art installations, to ceremonies, classrooms and being on the land, I believe education comes in many forms. Today, as an educator, my primary objective is to motivate and challenge learners to become critical thinkers and respectful, engaged and embodied learners. Teaching courses such as Contemporary Indigenous Art and developing a course called Indigenous Erotica, have both critically informed and re-formed my teaching philosophy. The application of my Indigenous methodological approach and my ‘Pedagogy of the Erotic’ promotes deep reflective thinking and embodied action centred around decolonial processes leading to corporeal sovereignty. My pedagogical approach and commitment to excellence in teaching has been rewarded with a graduate teaching award, very high teaching evaluations and uplifting, generous student responses.
I am also a part of the ‘Walking With Our Sisters’ Memorial Art Installation National Collective, I have the tremendous opportunity to work with many Indigenous communities including: community people, Elders, volunteers, leaders, and friends and relatives of the missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and genderful people. As one of the members of the National Collective, I am responsible for connecting with communities to help plan and guide them as they host the WWOS bundle. I am also accountable to the sacred bundle of WWOS and often travel to these communities, staying for a week to guide the installation and ceremonial process. Each of these communities have complex histories with colonialism, and as one of the National Collective, I must respectfully navigate through often challenging, cultural traditions, protocol and values.