Local artists “Creemix” a holiday classic

Tammy Lamouche and MC Redcloud offer an Indigenous spin on Mariah Carey’s number one hit

Jordan Mae Cook - 18 December 2020

Tammy Lamouche has teamed up with MC Redcloud to record a Cree version of All I Want For Christmas is You

As a teacher in the Arts program at maskêkosak kiskinomâtowikamik school on Enoch Cree Nation, Tammy Lamouche is always looking for new ways to incorporate nehiyawewin (Cree language) into the curriculum.

“The arts program they have there is new, and we thought if we’re teaching music, dance, drama, visual arts, then it’s important to bring in the language. So we found a creative way to learn Cree through song,” said Lamouche, an alumna of the joint Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies/Bachelor of Education in Secondary Education program.

Earlier this year she taught her fourth and fifth grade students a Cree translation of the song Stand By Me, translated by Sylvia Weenie. The students learned all the words in Cree, then performed the song for Enoch Cree Nation Elders. 

The project was so positively received that this December, Lamouche teamed up with rapper and producer MC Redcloud to create a Cree language version of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You, translated again by Weenie.

“This song is something we took and wanted to do something positive for the students and the community.”

Lamouche grew up hearing Cree spoken by her parents, and her late kokum Rose taught her a lot of what she now knows. 

She supplemented that knowledge base when she started in Native Studies and Education at the U of A and signed up for Dorothy Thunder’s Cree class.

“Dorothy’s class was amazing. I did it my first year, and it was such a good transition, especially moving from my community to Edmonton,” Lamouche said. 

“I took a lot from the class. Dorothy is an amazing instructor and person. She definitely inspired and encouraged me to continue to speak and learn and find new ways to continue to speak nehiyawewin.”

In a year like 2020, Lamouche and MC Redcloud were excited to do something to lift people’s spirits.

“I’m honoured to be able to do this. When Redcloud and I talked, we said we need something positive right now, why not use the number one Christmas song? And It was a lot of fun.”

The positive response they’ve received to the song has reinforced for Lamouche how successful bringing the Cree language to popular music can be. 

“It’s so awesome to hear people comment and say, ‘I didn’t grow up with the language and it sounds so beautiful, it’s encouraging me to want to learn to speak my language.’ A lot of people want to reclaim that.”