Cherry Smiley, (Youth Recipient), Vancouver, British Columbia, Recipient, 2013, Governor General Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case
I would like very much dear friends if I could express
the confident minds, not only of the five,
but of all the people who have advanced the cause of women.
For the women in my family and the indigenous women
and girls everywhere who are you know, struggling to survive
and to find love and to find joy,
I throw out my hands my hands to you.
Cherry Smiley is an emerging leader
among aboriginal women in Canada,
deeply committed to strengthening safety
and social justice for women and girls.
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.
I'm here today because of the love,
the guidance and the teachings given to me by my grandparents.
And I'm here because of the strength shown
by my mother Linda, my beautiful sisters
Ronnie, Sunny and Katie
and the countless other courageous indigenous women
and girls who struggle to survive,
to live and to find joy.
For an indigenous person choosing not to vanish,
not to feel inferior, not to hate one's self
becomes an intensely political act.
I choose not to vanish, not to feel inferior
and not to hate myself and I am not afraid.
Chi-Megwetch (big thank you) to my ancestors, my family, to my sisters,
my allies and friends.