Cheryl L'Hirondelle
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Cheryl L'Hirondelle

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Performance artist celebrates sounds of Vancouver"

VANCOUVER - A singer and artist is wandering around the city like a nomad to collect urban sounds for an online soundscape of Vancouver.

The artist’s name is Cheryl L’Hirondelle. Part Cree from Alberta, L’Hirondelle is using nehiyawin — a Cree world view — as a template for a work that combines music with performance art and new media.

It’s called nikamon ohci askiy, a Cree phrase that means “songs because of the land.”

Daily since late November, L’Hirondelle has been walking Vancouver to listen to what it has to say. She has no destination or goal on her walks other than gathering sounds.

Sometimes she collects found sounds such as birds chirping, the clatter of shopping carts on the pavement and the rush of diesel buses passing by.

Sometimes she makes her own interventions. She has recorded 10 songs including Giveaway, which was inspired by the street people who sell second-hand goods on the sidewalk on East Hastings.

She also includes the homeless. She arranges spontaneous mini-commissions with street people and pays them $20 for sound bites. One recording included the sounds of helping a man get his buggy out of the snow.

L’Hirondelle uses her mobile phone to record the sounds and uploads them to an online database. On the website, each audio clip is linked to one or more of 16 Cree values that include obedience, respect, humility, happiness and freedom. Members of the public can also link sounds to the website at

As she wanders, she meditates on Cree values and thinks of a walking story about Wesakechak, the trickster whose name is only supposed to be spoken when snow is on the ground.

One day, Wesakechak decides to go on a walk. But this isn’t just a stroll through the country. Wesakechak decides to walk in a straight line no matter what he encounters. Since he’s a trickster with magical powers, he’s able to walk up one side of a tree and down the other. He does the same with a boulder. Fording a river is no problem either; in the water, he just waves at the fish as he passes by.

When he comes to an ocean, even Wesakechak has to pause for a moment and come up with a plan. He decides on a test swim. He paddles halfway, and then returns to the same shore. He tries again and gets halfway only to discover that he’s tired. As he falls asleep, he realizes he should have just kept going the first time. But because he’s Wesakechak, he can’t die. His earlobes and hair start paddling to carry him across the ocean.

The next morning he wakes up at his destination, not quite sure how he got there.

“I wanted to wander around Vancouver and sing Vancouver and map it with my voice,” L’Hirondelle said

“I’m more concerned with how things sound than how things look.”

Various kinds of sound maps play an important role in other indigenous cultures.

Among the aborigines of Australia, singing the landscape can’t be separated from land ownership, storytelling, kinship and mapmaking. Songlines, as they’re called, criss-cross the entire continent. At their most practical level, they act as detailed song maps of specific features of the landscape that allow people to travel to places far beyond their traditional territories.

The Sami people of Scandinavia have a type of song called a yoik. It isn’t a song about a place or person; instead, a yoik is meant to capture the essence of a person — a kind of aural signature.

L’Hirondelle’s project is different. Her aural soundscape is much more abstract: Unlike a songline, for example, it’s not meant to link a sound with a specific location or to create a map meant to be followed. While there’s a live element to the work, the bulk of nikamon ohci askiy is in cyberspace where people can create their own mashup of sounds from the ones she’s collected.

Part of L’Hirondelle’s initial idea with nikamon ohci askiy was to slip into the city virtually unnoticed. But that meant she wouldn’t be following first nations’ protocol and asking for permission from the traditional owners of the land before she started.

Instead, she’s done it toward the end. On Sunday, she asked permission when she went on a soundwalk with Cease Wyss, a Squamish storyteller, at Kitsilano Beach. She completed her last walk around the city today.

L’Hirondelle is also a member of M’Girl (pronounced ma-girl). The group won the 2006 Best Female Traditional Album Award and the 2007 Best Group Award from the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.

On Feb. 7, a DVD of nikamon ohci askiy will be released at the Grunt Gallery during the Push Performing Arts Festival and the 2009 Cultural Olympiad.

Nikamon ohci askiy (Songs Because of the Land) is at Members of the public can follow the performances through a project feed at or visit the blog at
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun - Vancouver Sun


(includes solo projects, bands, session work & compilations)

2009 Cheryl L’Hirondelle - Giveaway, 5 song EP
Produced by Gregory Hoskins
Engineered, mixed, mastered by David Travers-Smith, Found Sound, Toronto ON

2009 Indian Reservation Blues and more – compilation (M’GIRL)
Produced by Guy Fay & Phillipe Langlois for Dixie Frog Records, France

2008 Cheryl L'Hirondelle – Giveaway, 3 song demo
Produced by Gregory Hoskins
Engineered, mixed, mastered by David Travers-Smith, Found Sound, Toronto ON
Additional recording: Doug Romanow, Fire Escape Studio, Toronto;
Doug Naugler, Artistic Intelligence Studio, Vancouver

2008 Pine Grove Creative Circles Project
Produced by Judy McNaughton, Common Weal Community Arts
Recorded Live at Pine Grove Correctional Centre, Prince Albert, SK

2007 Arlette Alcock - Wolf Girl
Produced by Gaye Delorme, Green House Studio, Vancouver, BC

2007 Violet Naytowhow - Wind of the North
Produced by Wayne Lavallee, Vancouver, BC

2007 Wayne Lavallee - Buffalo Soldier (single)
Produced by Wayne Lavallee, Green House Studio, Vancouver, BC

2006 Violet Naytowhow - 5 Song Demo
Produced and engineered by Wayne Lavallee, Vancouver, BC

2006 M’Girl - Fusion of Two Worlds
Produced and engineered by Kat Hendrix, Absolute Sound, Vancouver, BC

2006 Eugene Skeef – Remembrance
Produced by Eugene Skeef
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Jared Miller, Banff Centre, Banff AB

2006 jef chippewa - one + five
Produced by jef Chippewa
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Jared Miller, Banff Centre, Banff AB

2006 SafetyNET - compilation (NIKAMOK)
Produced by Colm O Snodaigh, Dublin IE & London UK

2005 Ness Essentials - 15th Anniversary Compilation (NIKAMOK)
Produced by Byron Olsen, Ness Creek Music Festival, Saskatoon, SK

2005 Many Voices: Alberta Aboriginal Curriculum Project - comp (NIKAMOK)
Produced by Pearson Education Canada, Toronto, ON

2001 Flatland Music Festival Compilation (NIKAMOK)
Produced by Saskatchewan Recording Industry Association, Regina, SK

2000 Nikamok – Nikamok
Produced by Cheryl L’Hirondelle
Engineered, mixed, mastered by Neil Meckelborg, Turtle Island Music, Saskatoon

1999 Waiting for the Star – Live concert recording (NIKAMOK)
Produced by Sasha Koerbler, Bonnie Austring-Winter & Michel Lalonde
Engineered by Chris Haynes, CBC Radio Saskatchewan, Regina, SK

1997 Back Alley John - One Way Ticket to Palookaville
Produced by Tim Williams
Engineered by Rob Bartlett, Sundae Sound, Calgary, AB

1996 Francis Marchildon – Balance
Produced by Francis Marchildon and Mark Schmidt,
Engineered by Mark Schmidt, Earthling Sound, Regina, SK

1996 Singing to Keep Time, A Collection of Metis Songs
Produced by Lyndon Smith for Gabriel Dumont Institute
Engineered by Ross Schmidt, Right Tracks Studio, Saskatoon, SK

1995 Back Alley John - More a feeling than a living - Back Alley John
Produced by Tim Williams and Jamie Kidd
Engineered & mastered by Rob Bartlett, Sundae Sound, Calgary, AB

1993 Back Alley John - Out on the Highway
Produced by Tim Williams & Back Alley John
Engineered and mastered by Rob Bartlett, Sunday Sound, Calgary, AB



+ Singer/Songwriter + New Media Artist + Performance Artist +

"sounding a Cree worldview in contemporary time and space"

Cheryl L' Hirondelle is a much sought after multi-disciplinary artist and musician. A mixed-blood (Metis/Cree-non status/treaty, French, German, Polish) originally from Alberta, her creative practice investigates the junction of a Cree worldview in contemporary time and space. Cheryl L' Hirondelle’s projects span a wide array of disciplines including: music, performance art, storytelling, spoken word, theatre, audio art, installation, public art and new media.

Her latest recording Giveaway is a contemporary take on a Cree worldview with each song sharing an important moral or value to make a ‘Good Life’ or ‘Pimatisiwin’. The 5 song EP includes a special DVD with a music video of "Love One Another" and is the sampler of a full album scheduled for completion in the fall of 2009. The songs were literally written as she walked around Vancouver during the winter of 2008 mapping the city with her voice. She used a mobile phone to upload the songs to a dedicated interactive website [] that was recently recognised as an Official Honoree of the 13th Annual Webby Awards. []

Cheryl L’Hirondelle is also a member of M’Girl [pronounced ma-girl], winners of the 2006 Best Female Traditional Album Award and the 2007 Best Group Award from the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. Since 1995 she has also written, arranged and performed songs as the duo Nikamok (with Joseph Naytowhow), playing northern plains hybrid, social and ceremonial drum & rattle songs for audiences and gatherings all over North America. The duo’s first self-titled CD (produced by Cheryl) was nominated for a Prairie Music Award (now WCMA’s) for Outstanding Aboriginal Recording in 2001. Cheryl has performed internationally since the early 80’s in a variety of bands and musical ensembles from punk to art rock, alternative, blues, folk-roots, world music and choral ensembles.

In both 2005 and 2006, L’Hirondelle was the recipient of the imagineNATIVE New Media Award for her online projects: treatycard, 17:TELL and wêpinâsowina. In 2004, L’Hirondelle was the first Aboriginal artist from Canada to be invited to present work at DAK’ART Lab, as part of the 6th Edition of the Dakar Biennale for Contemporary African Art, Dakar, Senegal.

L’Hirondelle’s performance art work is much written about and featured in Caught in the Act: An Anthology of Performance Art by Canadian Women (2001). Her 2001 performative activity and corresponding website cistêmaw iyiniw ohci (for the tobacco being) are also discussed in Making a Noise: Aboriginal Perspectives on Art, Art History, Critical Writing and Community (2006).

“I find inspiration working with an artist who has the desire to stretch, the passion to connect, the discipline to work and the brains to back it up with.” - Gregory Hoskins, producer

Contact: Cheryl L’Hirondelle,
Media Contact: Heather Kelly,