Cherry Smiley

October 16, 2014

Freedom as Controversy: Indigenous Women and Girls and the Abolition of Prostitution

On October 16, 2014, the Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy award was presented to Cherry Smiley, MFA. From the Nlaka'pamux (Thompson) and Dine' (Navajo) Nations, Smiley is an artist, Indigenous feminist activist, and prostitution abolitionist. A front line anti-violence worker and accomplished public speaker on sexualized colonial violence against Indigenous women and girls, Cherry is a co-founder of Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry (IWASI). IWASI is an unfunded group of Indigenous women and girls that work toward ending prostitution and advocate for the restoration of traditional Indigenous beliefs and structures that value women and girls. A recently graduated Master of Fine Arts student, Cherry's art practice is one that is deeply passionate and inherently political, grounded in her experiences as an Indigenous woman, radical feminist theory, and in the teachings handed down to her by her Elders. In 2013, Cherry received a Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case (youth) for her work in the interest of women's equality. In 2014, she exhibited Revolution Songs, an installation that focused on the experiences of prostituted women and women affected by prostitution.