PhD Student, Sherryl Sewepagaham awarded 2024 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

Sherryl Sewepagaham Credit: Milana Ward

We are thrilled to share that UBC School of Music PhD student Sherryl Sewepagaham (Cree-Dene) has been awarded the 2024 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (Vanier CGS) through the social sciences and humanities grant (SSHRC) for her proposal Nikamowin: Recapturing Song Practices with the Woodland Cree Language. Sherryl began her PhD in the Ethnomusicology graduate program in September 2023.

Sherryl is Woodland Cree-Dene from the Little Red River Cree Nation in northern Alberta. She has demonstrated academic excellence primarily as a nationally recognized composer, with an emerging record as a publishing scholar. She has composed many works for choirs, which includes the composition Nipîy (Water Song), with lyrics in Cree, for the Canadian Chamber Choir. A recording of this work is forthcoming this fall. Her 2014 debut solo album, Splashing the Water Loudly, received a 2015 Indigenous Music Award nomination and is featured in APTN’s Chaos and Courage series and All Our Relations.

Sherryl co-founded the Indigenous women’s trio Asani, whose albums garnered multiple award nominations, including a 2006 Juno nomination for what was then called, “Aboriginal Recording of the Year.” She is also a co-investigator in the Indigenous-led project Ikaskîhtamâsot (Ways of Knowing), and a collaborator on another research project, “Drumming in Indigenous Voices” focusing on decolonizing music education on a national level led by Dr. Anita Prest of the University of Victoria.

As a music therapist, she has served as advisor to the Music Therapy Association for Alberta and is recognized for her decolonization work in music education as an elementary music educator.

Sherryl’s research is focused on revitalizing the Cree language through Indigenous songs and examining gender within Cree traditions. She is currently studying with Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology Dr. Dylan Robinson, xwélmexw (Stó:lō/Skwah). Dr. Robinson is an internationally recognized leader in critical Indigenous music studies.

About the scholarship

The Vanier CGS program is designed to attract and retain world-class doctoral students by supporting students who demonstrate both leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and humanities (SSHRC), natural sciences and engineering (NSERC), and health-related fields (CIHR).