Tina Keeper is an accomplished Cree actress who played RCMP constable Michelle Kenidi on the popular and critically acclaimed CBC television series “North Of 60.” She is also a Cree activist, producer, and former member of the Canadian House of Commons.
In Tina Keeper’s own words, her character Michelle “is very proud, very competent.” She also struggles however, as a First Nations officer living and working in her home town, with the pressures of her community, and her duty to the RCMP.
Tina Keeper has been well rewarded for her acting work, with three Gemini Award nominations for her performance as Michelle and in 1997 a Gemini for Best Actress in a continuing television series.
In 1998 Tina Keeper won the American Indian Film Festival award for Best Actress, again for her role as Michelle Kenidi, but this time in the North of 60 based movie, In The Blue Ground.
In addition to these acting accomplishments, Tina Keeper is the hostess of the Manitoba Television Network’s “The Sharing Circle,” and the Woman’s Television Network’s “Hot Topics.”
Keeper has also directed documentary films for the National Film Board.
Tina Keeper was born in Northern Manitoba on May 20, 1962 and moved to Winnipeg with her family when she was four years old.
Tina’s first experience with theatre was in 1982 when she was recruited by her sister to help out with the wardrobe of a First Nations theatre group.
Out of a love of acting, Tina Keeper went on to obtain a double major degree at the University of Winnipeg in both theatre and history.
Although she appeared in two short films before acting in North of 60, Tina admits that as a university student, she never planned on a career as an actress.
Keeper was expecting to continue her education with a masters degree in history, or in education, when her friend, Jordan Wheeler, encouraged her to audition for a part in North of 60.
To her surprise, she got the part and in her own words, “accidentally” became an actress!
Keeper is a member of the Norway House Cree Nation
Tina is the granddaughter of Olympic long distance runner Joe Keeper and daughter of Joseph I. Keeper (Norway House Cree Nation), member of the Order of Canada and Rev. Dr. Phyllis Keeper (née Beardy, Muskrat Dam First Nation). Her siblings, Joy, Lorne and Barry are involved in the arts, media and education fields. Her maternal uncle is Anglican Bishop Gordon Beardy.
She has been involved in a variety of social issues, such as suicide prevention and violence against women. She has produced initiatives in public education to build bridges between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the province of Manitoba.
She was elected in 2006 as the Canadian Liberal Party candidate in Churchill. Keeper served as the Official Opposition’s Critic for Public Health and Canadian Heritage and as Special Advisor for Aboriginal Outreach in the parliament that followed.
In 2008, she lost her bid for reelection. Currently, she is partner in a film and television company, Kistikan Pictures.