Bear Grease star calls on Indigenous communities to invest in Fine Arts Education

Tammy Lamouche. Indigenality Photography

By Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – Tammy Lamouche’s story is an excellent example of the transformative power of the arts and its potential to take individuals to new places and opportunities.

Despite growing up in a small northern community with little focus on the arts, Tammy taught herself to sing and became an accomplished singer-songwriter and actress. As a teacher, Tammy is committed to providing her students with opportunities that she didn’t have.

When Lamouche is not traveling across North America performing for Bear Grease, an indigenized version of the 1950s musical, she is passionate about incorporating language revitalization into her teaching and music.

“I’m from a small northern community in the territory known as Whitefish Lake First Nation, and my mother is from Gift Lake Metis Settlement in Treaty 8 Territory,” said Lamouche. “As a youth, I didn’t have any option of fine arts. So [now] I get to teach students how to be confident in who they are, to help create platforms to showcase their creativity. I didn’t have that when I was growing up.”

Lamouche started singing at age five, but she said there is little for arts in reserve schools. “I went to school in a small community where it only went up to Grade 9, and there was nothing for the arts,” she said. “I taught myself to sing.”

Lamouche’s inspiration was listening to Alicia Keys, Motown, and Mariah Carey.

“I moved to Edmonton and attended University. I got my first degree in Native Studies and a second degree – a Bachelor of Education,” she said.

As soon as she became a teacher, “I was able to teach fine arts in the school. I came full circle.”

Lamouche believes that Fine Arts programming should be a priority in the Indigenous education system and that creative minds should be supported to showcase their creativity.

“In the budgets, Fine Arts are not a priority; they are often the last to be considered,” she said. Educators can combine language revitalization and the arts, she added.

“I love music, and I translate popular songs into Cree,” said Lamouche. “I grew up around my language and culture. I grew up around fluent Cree speakers.

“It’s something that I want to continue working on in education and through my craft, through music. So, I focus a lot on translating popular songs into Cree and singing them.”

Her use of the arts as a way for students to learn the language is a creative and effective method that highlights the importance of cultural expression and preservation.

Being a cast member on the hit musical Bear Grease has helped build Rae’s confidence. However, in terms of her personality, there is a noticeable difference between her real-life persona and the character she portrays on stage in Bear Grease.

While Lamouche is connected to her culture, passionate about language revitalization, and using the arts to facilitate learning, her character Rizzo is portrayed as mean, fierce, and hard-shelled. Lamouche had to work hard to bring this character to life.

“Playing Rizzo on Bear Grease is so different from who I am. I had to build up to this character. I had to work hard towards being that mean girl.”

“I’m just this shy girl from the Rez,” said Lamouche.

Her story is a perfect example of the positive impact of the arts; they can take you to far-off places and broaden your horizons.

Beargrease is an international success, and the musical has taken the cast across North America. Rae explained, “Bear Grease is picking up, and people have been inviting us to other communities and big cities, like Denver, Colorado, Las Vegas, Florida, and cities in southern California.”

“It’s taking me to places I thought I would never visit,” said Lamouche. “We are attending communities where your spirit is being filled, and we are getting to share our beautiful culture.”

Bear Grease is a dream come true. I’m doing things I never thought I would.”

Lamouche ends the interview by saying she wants to use her platform to inspire Indigenous youth. “I want to encourage and inspire Indigenous youth. I want them to feel empowered and worthy,” she said. “I feel that’s what my purpose is,” and that’s what she is doing with Bear Grease, which continues to be an incredible experience for her both professionally and personally.

Lamouche’s role in Bear Grease has led to speaking engagements including an upcoming engagement at Grant MacEwan University. Her availability for workshops and motivational speaking further underscores her commitment to inspiring others and using her experiences to help others achieve their potential.

For bookings email [email protected].



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