Cherry Smiley, Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case (Youth Recipient)

Smiley is a MFA student in the School for the Contemporary Arts at SFU


Cherry Smiley is one of two youth recipients of the 2013 Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case. The  Awards were created to celebrate the five women that led to the historic legal decision to have the word "person" declared to include both women and men, and to recognize individuals who have shown the courage and determination to significantly advance equality for women and girls in Canada. Each year five individuals, including two in the youth category, are chosen to receive the awards.

About Cherry Smiley (from the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case website)

Cherry Smiley is a dedicated young woman, deeply committed to strengthening safety and social justice for women and girls. From the Nlaka’pamux (Thompson) and Dine’ (Navajo) nations, Cherry is an emerging leader among Aboriginal women in Canada. She is an internationally recognized speaker on gender equality issues, presenting at key gatherings around the world. Her determination to create awareness about violence against Aboriginal women and girls is apparent in her many volunteer commitments, as well as in her ability to educate through art. Since 2008, Ms. Smiley has been involved with Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, where she provides support, information, and advocacy to women and girls who have experienced male violence. From 2008 to 2011, she volunteered with the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network. In 2012, she co-facilitated the Sisterwork program at the Urban Native Youth Association, engaging young Aboriginal women and girls in discussing violence, creating art and giving presentations to local communities. Ms. Smiley is in the Masters of Fine Arts Program at Simon Fraser University, where she was awarded the inaugural Graduate Aboriginal Entrance Scholarship (Masters). She co-founded Indigenous Women against the Sex Industry, a volunteer group that works to educate the public about prostitution as an expression of colonialism and male violence and that works to abolish prostitution through progressive social policy. Cherry Smiley lives on Coast Salish territories in Vancouver.

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