Achievements

Governor-General's award winner: Cherry Smiley

February 14, 2014
Print

Cherry Smiley describes herself as a proud First Nations woman, radical feminist, prostitution abolitionist, activist and artist.

Now, she can add Governor-General’s award-winner to the list.

A graduate student in the School of the Contemporary Arts’ fine arts program, Smiley is one of five Canadians to receive a 2013 Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Person’s Case. She is one of two youth recipients.

The awards celebrate the five women whose work led to the historic legal decision to have the word “person” declared to include both women and men. The award recognizes individuals who have shown similar courage and determination to significantly advance equality for women and girls in Canada.

Smiley is a frequent speaker on issues of violence against Aboriginal women and girls, prostitution, and equality for women and girls. She has spoken throughout Canada, in New York City and in Norway.

Over the past five years, Smiley has worked with Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter and volunteered with the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network until 2011. In 2012 she co-facilitated the Sisterwork program at the Urban Native Youth Association to engage young Aboriginal women and girls in discussing violence, creating art and giving presentations to local communities.

Last year she co-founded Indigenous Women Against the Sex industry, a volunteer group working to educate the public about prostitution as an expression of colonialism and male violence. The group is also advocating for progressive social policies that will abolish prostitution.

“My activism and art aren’t separate,” says Smiley, who is primarily a photographer but also incorporates video, sound and text into her art projects.

The award, says Smiley, “is a recognition not only of my work but of other women, girls and organizations that are working for a similar goal—equality.”

She’s hopeful that the award will give a platform to further her causes.

No comments yet

Recent Blog Posts

  • Planning for Sea Level Rise Seminar October 20, 2017
    John Englander, Oceanographer, Consultant, and Leading Expert on Sea Level Rise, will be visiting SFU Burnaby on November 8, 2017. This event is open to anyone in the SFU community.

  • External Award: Scotiabank and yconic Scholarships October 20, 2017
    Scotiabank and yconic are partnering to offer a variety of scholarships for Canadian and international students.

  • Job Posting: Research Data Peer for "R" October 20, 2017
    The Research Data Peer for ‘R’ is a paid position with the Research Commons at SFU Burnaby, to develop ‘R’ support services of particular interest to SFU graduate students in a variety of disciplines. Apply by October 27, 2017.

View Posts by Category