Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Library Speakers Series presents Sandra Lamouche

Sandra Lamouche
T. Lucas photo and video

The Pincher Creek and District Municipal Library is holding a Speakers Series on Tuesday nights from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.

On the evening of January 29 their guest speaker was Sandra Lamouche, a Nehiyaw Iskwew (Cree Woman) from the Bigstone Cree Nation in Northern Alberta. Lamouche received a B.A. in Native American Studies from the University of Lethbridge in 2007 and is currently completing her Master of Arts Degree at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario in Indigenous Studies.

Lamouche spoke and performed a hoop dance during the event, presenting part of the work that she has done while working towards her thesis titled "Nitona Miyo Pimadisiwin (Seeking a Good Life)".  Her topic of discussion was Indigenous Dance as a Social Determinant of Health and Well-being.

"The title (of her thesis) actually comes from one of the interviews I did."  She explained that one of the people she interviewed asked her "What is art?"  He explained his question from his cultural prospective. "In our language, Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)there is no word for art."  He had researched this, and found that the closest word in his native tongue translates into 'Seeking a good life'.

"It fit in with my thesis perfectly, and what I wanted to study," said Lamouche.

She has been involved in dance from a very young age.  "I took all the western styles of dance (including) tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, modern, and I loved it.  In high school, I did a little bit of pow-wow dancing with the jingle dress and fancy shawl."  A turning point for Lamouche was learning the hoop dance when she was a student at the University of Lethbridge.  Talking about her instructor she said "He taught me  the story associated with the dance, and the meaning behind it.  I never really got a lot of that before.  In the context of my life, I could see how it was more meaningful for me."

Lamouche has taken fifteen years of personal experience in dance and performance and applied that toward her studies in a holistic approach.  This, combined with a passion to understand and learn more of the Cree culture she was born into and other First Nation cultures has driven her to educate herself through histories, discussions, stories, dance, and formal education.

Embracing both modern and traditional tools and styles Lamouche has chosen to use the medicine wheel as a tool to explain and summarize her studies that has been used in various indigenous cultures.  The medicine wheel has been used to gain perspective and insight when looking at situations.

"Our culture is so important for our heath and well being in a holistic sense, so I looked to the medicine wheel as a framework".

First, she studied in depth the meanings and use of medicine wheels from a variety of First Nation Cultures.  Once she understood and could overlay these across cultures, Lamouche applied the accepted knowledge of the medicine wheels to individuals, cultural backgrounds and her own life experiences.

"I interviewed fourteen traditional and contemporary performers from all over First Nations, and indigenous people all over Canada and the US," said Lamouche.  She stressed that understanding one's culture and the use of dance can affect all aspects of one's life, including sobriety, family, friends, diet, fitness and  relationships.  "Everything changes when you learn the stories, the teachings and responsibilities."

After a brief intermission she preformed a hoop dance, easily flowing between forms depicting a globe, an eagle, a butterfly, and more with grace.

Lamouche explained how colonization suppressed traditional culture. prohibiting dancing, drumming and language.  She sees cycle of re-creation with the resurgence of contemporary powwows.  "We are a moving, living culture that is always re-creating ourselves".

Related link:

Upcoming Tuesday night Speakers Series events

  • February 5 – Just in time for the tax season, Ed and Valerie Sinnott of Lawson Accounting will be talking about the dos and don’ts of filing your taxes and strategies for planning your savings.
  • February 12 – Author Murray Pura will be talking about his book “The Face of Heaven” featuring Abraham Lincoln and the civil war, on Lincoln's birthdate even.
  • February 19 – Author Roy Davidson will be talking about local history and his books, “Honour – a Story of the Blackfoot Indians” and “The Place Where the Kootenai Go Up”.
  • February 26 – Larry Frith is a professional agrologist and had been a local rancher for 42 years, raising certified organic beef since 1997.  He will be discussing “Sustainable Ranching”.

Pincher Creek & District Municipal Library

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