Memorable Manitobans: Jackson Beardy (1944-1984)
Indigenous artist, writer.
Born at Island Lake in 1944, son of Dinah Beardy, at the age of seven he was sent to the Portage Residential School and completed high school at the Portage Collegiate. He studied art at the Winnipeg Technical Vocational High School. As an artist, he was a pioneer in expressing the new iconography of his people by reconceptualizing Indigenous symbolism. He made headlines when, in 1970, he was denied admission to his own exhibit at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. He compiled Cree Indian Legends from Northern Manitoba (1971). In the 1970s, a newspaper reporter dubbed him a member of the “Indian Group of Seven” that also included Daphne Odjig, Norval Morriseau, Alex Janvier, Joseph Sanchez, Eddie Cobiness, and Carl Ray. He spent three years in the early 1980s as an art consultant to the federal Department of Indian Affairs at Ottawa. He returned to Winnipeg in early 1984 and died at the Health Sciences Centre on 8 December 1984. He was survived by a wife and son as well as two children from a previous marriage.
“A 22-year-old and his heritage,” Winnipeg Tribune, 27 May 1967.
“Beardy remembered as important native artist,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 December 1984, page 38.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 11 December 1984, page 53.
“Hard life focus of Beardy tribute,” Winnipeg Free Press, 12 December 1984, page 3.
“Aboriginal artist’s career spanned six decades,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 October 2016.
We thank James Kostuchuk for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 27 January 2023