When Teagan Littlechief sings in front of thousands of fans at Sundays Grey Cup game, shell be thinking about Canadas Indigenous youth.
Littlechief, who is from White Bear First Nation on Treaty 4 territory in southeastern Saskatchewan, says she was often the only Indigenous person on stage when she first started performing.
My thing is being able to show society that First Nations people are just as talented as any other race. Ive always wanted our First Nations people out there to flaunt what weve got and show society what we have to offer, the 35-year-old said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
I hope that what Im able to do is maybe break a barrier down for our youth.
Littlechief is to perform O Canada in three languages -- English, French and Cree -- at the Canadian Football Leagues championship game in Regina between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Toronto Argonauts.
Only fluent in English, Littlechief has been leaning on a Cree teacher and French friend to help her practice the national anthem in the other languages.
My Cree teacher today was giving me the lowdown of pronunciations and what would sound better with what words.
Littlechief said she believes she may be the first to sing the anthem at a Grey Cup in Cree. Juno award winner Susan Aglukark, who blends Inuit folk music traditions with country songwriting, sang the anthem for the 1998 Grey Cup in Winnipeg.
Were always trying to bring recognition in everything that we do now, and Im over the moon. Im happy that people are starting to recognize First Nations, said Littlechief.
Littlechief, who also works as an addictions counsellor and youth worker, has her own singing accolades to brag about.
She was named the Indigenous Artist of the Year at the 2022 Saskatchewan Country Music Awards. She took home the title of Saskatchewans Next Big Thing from the Pure Country radio station in Regina and performed at this years Country Thunder Music Festival.
She has also performed O Canada at games for the CFLs Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Western Hockey Leagues Regina Pats.
Littlechief said has been in love with music since she was a child, when her brother would put headphones on her and shed dance herself to sleep, but said the road to success hasnt been easy.
She has struggled with alcohol addiction since high school, she said, and dabbled with heavy drugs.
I always dreamt that when I had my first child ... Id raise them in a substance-abuse-free home, and thats not the life that he got, Littlechief said of her 11-year-old son, Gabriel.
The first two years of his life he was having to deal with an alcoholic mom, who ditched him all the time.
Littlechief said she went on her last bender in 2017. At the time, the boy was sick at home and without his mom.
That day, I decided that was it. It was probably the hardest, hardest adventure -- Im going to call it an adventure -- because I missed out on so much of my sons life, and now Im slowly able to make up for it.
Her singing has taken off since shes been sober. But most importantly, she said, it has brought her and her son closer together.
They often go on road trips together for her shows, she said, and hes been her main support, along with her mother and stepfather.
[Gabriel] is super excited. Hes always saying my moms singing the anthem and he says, Mom, the kids at school know me. Littlechief said of her upcoming Grey Cup performance.
Ive been practising, practising, practising. My son is actually getting tired of me singing it all the time. Hes like, Mom the anthem is stuck in my head now.
While shes feeling some nerves, Littlechief said she reminds herself of why shes taking the stage on Sunday.
I just want to be able to show the youth I work with that dreams are possible when you work hard and you put in effort in on all the things you want to do.
And change happens. Beautiful things happen.