Kimmer Olesak, Courtesy PBS/WXXI, Rochester, New York
Robin Poor Bear and her children Anthony and Darian

Sad News: PBS’s Kind Hearted Woman, Robin Poor Bear Walks On

Vincent Schilling

Though details at this point are not certain, Robin Poor Bear, a Native woman who was the subject of an Independent Lens’ documentary Kind Hearted Woman, walked on this past Friday in North Dakota. Poor Bear was the mother of two children.

SEE RELATED: The Spirit to Speak Out: Documentary Features Oglala Sioux Woman's Heartbreak and Redemption Through Custody Battles, Abuse

In Poor Bear’s story, filmmaker David Sutherland followed Poor Bear, who was then known by her married name Robin Charboneau, for three years as an exploration of a woman who had suffered from a life of abuse. The result was a nearly five-hour documentary shown on PBS in April of 2013 as a joint production of Frontline and Independent Lens.

Courtesy PBS

In an ICTMN interview after her documentary aired, Poor Bear said the film, “helped me grow. It helped me listen to my spirit. My spirit came alive. It made me a better mom. Women and children have been reaching out from all over, talking about their issues, some for the first time. Not just women and children but men also. I’m just so blessed in so many ways that I can’t even count.”

There have been a plethora of posts on Facebook since Poor Bear’s passing. This from Dawn Karima:

Once somebody loves you,they will ALWAYS love you...I love my Sister Robin Poor Bear.I will miss you so much...Good night, Gorgeous. ‪#‎RIP ‬‪#‎GONETOOSOON‬ released a statement on their website:

This weekend we received sad news about the subject of the Independent Lens/FRONTLINE film Kind Hearted Woman. Robin Poor Bear, a.k.a. Charboneau, passed away this Friday at home in North Dakota.

Our hearts here at Independent Lens go out to Robin’s family, especially her two children. It was not that long ago that Robin sent us an update on their lives. May her memory continue to be a shining light for her kids, and may her story continue to be an inspiration to women and girls who have been victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Rest in peace, Robin.

ICTMN will report further details as they emerge. Details about her memorial service at the Evans Funeral Home in New Rockford, North Dakota can be found here.


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Lorraine Landers
Lorraine Landers
Submitted by Lorraine Landers on
She was an amazing source of courage and hope. Praying for her to have a good journey.

Lonino's picture
Submitted by Lonino on
I saw this on pbs,, glad it came out of the dark and into the light, sorry it was her story..may she find what eluded her in this life!

dinagw's picture
Submitted by dinagw on
I'm so, so sorry to hear this. Prayers for healing for Robin's family, especially for her children. May she find comfort in the Creator's loving light.