Cheryl Wadhams was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1967 and raised in Alert Bay, BC for the first five years of her life and the rest thereafter in the urban setting of Vancouver. Cheryl’s family is from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia in the territory known as the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation. Within that territory there are many nations or villages. Cheryl is one of the Namgis Nation, which traditionally originated at the mouth of the Nimpkish River on Northern Vancouver Island.
Surrounded by her uncles, most of whom were involved in the commercial art industry in some form or another, it seemed almost inevitable that Cheryl would follow that same path. In the early 1980’s, Cheryl started her career, unbeknownst to her at the time, as a female Kwakwaka’wakw wood carver. Carving under the guidance of her uncle and mentor, Don Dawson, Cheryl watched and learned. Tracing halves of drawings that Don would draw on the wood, she would then proceed to carve the other half that Don carved.
As a young protégé and mother, Cheryl continued her career more seriously in the 1990’s. Invited to New York, NY in 1994 to do an art show and several demonstrations at local venues in Vancouver, she has grown in terms of her style and confidence as an up and coming representative of the Kwakwaka’wakw nation.
Completing her Associates of Arts Degree in the Aboriginal Studies Program and a Certification in Small Business Development at Langara College, she is in the process of building her entrepreneurial dream and hopes some day to become a mentor for the people of her nation.
Wadhams specializes in miniature feast bowls, rattles and masks in animal, spiritual and human forms. They are skillfully depicted in the Kwakwaka’wakw style, and she aspires to achieve bigger and better projects, as yet to come.
Cheryl continues to mix family, culture and education into her life. With her marriage of 18 years and her two boys; cultural practices and awareness in the urban setting; and academia; all lend to insurmountable growth and understanding of herself, her people and ultimately her heart.