E X T E N S I V E B I O G R A P H Y
From fighting to save the environment, to struggling against racism, to fighting for women’s rights and against homophobia, Heather Bishop has never been afraid to stand up for what she believes.
In the late 60s, Heather was among the first women to form an independent feminist movement in this country. Following in the footsteps of the suffragettes, she began to champion equal rights for women.
In the early 70s, she went on strike with the United Pressman’s Union and spearheaded
the first ever effort in Canada to seek equal pay for work of equal value. Although that
effort only netted the women a small gain in closing the gender pay scale gap, equal
pay for work of equal value legislation was passed federally a few years later.
Prior to the passage of that legislation, Heather was instrumental in having the first
CUPE contract ratified in Canada that not only included equal pay for work of
equal value, but also included a highly controversial clause banning discrimination
on the grounds of sexual orientation along with race, gender, ethnic origin and religious
During that decade, Heather helped organize the first Aboriginal women’s caucus of the Metis
Society of Saskatchewan. The MSS crushed this first attempt at organizing Aboriginal women.
Shortly thereafter, the first Saskatchewan Organization of Aboriginal Women formed independently.
The 70s were still dangerous times for gays and lesbians, so Heather Bishop appeared on various radio shows and at many public speaking engagements to try to eradicate homophobia. She spoke to medical students, psychiatric students and the police force in an attempt to change archaic attitudes towards the homosexual population. In 1975, Heather was a founding member of the first Lesbian organization in Manitoba.
Heather Bishop has, over the years, developed a broad set of non-traditional skills. She is a carpenter, plumber, electrician and auto mechanic. With these skills in hand, she helped initiate and then taught the first Pre-Trades Training for Women courses in the country at Red River Community College in the late 70s. She was a founding member of the Women in Trades organization which has grown to become a national organization of stature.
With an eye to walking softly on this earth, Heather built her own solar home in 1979 in rural Manitoba. At the time, it was, and still is, a state of the art passive solar home with separate grey water disposal systems. She has been involved in the construction of several solar buildings since then, not the least of which is a straw bale cottage she built on her land. Her house and many of the neighbours are powered by the 16Kwh solar panels she installed on her land.
Heather is perhaps best known for her work as a musician. Her career has spanned 4 decades and taken her around the world. She performs to both children and adults and has garnered numerous awards including JUNO nominations and Parent’s Choice Gold Awards.
In 1976 Heather formed her own recording company, Mother of Pearl Records, Inc. She was one of the first Canadian musicians to make their own album and helped to start the trend of independent labels in Canada. The Canadian independent recording industry has become the lifeblood of the Canadian music business. Heather has released 15 recordings, selling close to 200,000 copies world-wide from her rural based company in southern Manitoba.
She is a well-known name at all the major Canadian Folk Festivals as well as at all the Children’s Festivals in this country and many abroad. She has performed with almost every major symphony orchestra in Canada as well as some in the USA. Heather was a regular guest performer on the internationally acclaimed Fred Penner Show.
Heather has dedicated an equal part of her career to touring in the United States, again for both adult and children’s audiences. Since their inception, she was a regular performer at the two largest Women’s festivals in the USA.
Internationally, Heather has toured Scotland, Wales, and Australia. Australia became a regular stop on her international schedule, having tour there several years in a row and appearing at all their major folk festivals, including their largest the Woodford Folk Festival.
Heather Bishop has always believed that music is one of the most effective tools for change and has dedicated her career to addressing the challenges facing our world. She has been a champion of women’s rights and gay rights, sacrificing gain in her own career to stand behind her truth and her beliefs. Heather was the first publicly “out” Lesbian to perform at major Canadian Folk Festivals, thereby breaking down the barriers for Gays and Lesbians in the music industry. Through her music, she is recognized and honoured in both Canada and the United States as one of the pioneers who opened doors for gays and lesbians to come out and take their rightful and equal place in society.
To try to record the sheer number of benefit performances Heather has given and the diversity of the causes that she has generously supported with her music would be an impossible task. Suffice it to say that she is always called upon and readily gives her time to numerous worthy causes:
- Heather has been and continues to sit on boards as chair and director, a selection of which follows: Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments (federal), Manitoba Film Classification Board, the Order of Manitoba Advisory Council, Manitoba Film and Music, Manitoba Music.
She joined Shirley Douglas, Keifer Sutherland, and Mary Walsh in Alberta to rally that province in an attempt to impede the privatization of health care.
She gave a month of her time driving her own support vehicle for Habitat for Humanity’s Bike Atlanta trip which raised over a quarter of a million dollars towards building homes for low-income families.
Heather was a founding member of the Manitoba Audio Recording Industry Association and, as board president, helped build it into the powerful industry voice in Canada that it is today.
Heather spent five summers studying American Sign Language and has donated her time to the Deaf community
Heather is a Certified Master Hypnotherapist, Time Line Therapist, and NLP Practitioner.