Tammy Beauvais says 'it's really big for indigenous people to have
Beauvais is a fourth generation artisan from Kahnawake, Que.
Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau offered a unique gift to Michelle
Obama today, during the Trudeau family's visit to the White House:
an aboriginal beaded cape.
The cape was made by Tammy Beauvais, a fourth generation artisan
from Kahnawake, Que.
It's navy blue, Obama's favourite colour, and includes three
small glass beads that belonged to Beauvais's great-grandmother.
"I only use them once in a while. I put three on the cape,
one in each beaded flower," Beauvais said.
"The thought that we were going to get indigenous people
to do this work, to make the gifts, to give them as gifts to the
president of the U.S and the first lady. It's so big," she
'She's the one I'm grateful for'
cape is navy blue, Obamas favourite colour, and includes
three small glass beads that belonged to Beauvaiss great
grandmother. (Tammy Beauvais)
It all started when Beauvais met Valerie Galley, who is the
partner of Assembly of First Nations Chief, Perry Bellegarde. Beauvais
was displaying her designs at the chief's gathering in Saskatchewan
when Galley stopped, said she loved the pieces, and bought one.
"She's the one I'm grateful for," Beauvais said.
When Justin Trudeau became prime minister last fall, Galley
contacted Beauvais to commission a gift for Grégoire-Trudeau,
who loved it and sent Beauvais a letter of thanks afterward.
Then, things started to snowball for Beauvais. Grégoire-Trudeau
contacted her to make a cape for U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama.
Beauvais is Mohawk, and has been designing since childhood.
She started selling her work at 13, and says her business, Tammy
Beauvais Designs, has now been running for 17 years.
'Honouring my family'
Beauvais, who always wanted to be a designer since she
was a little girl, makes dresses, capes and scarves, many of which
carry aboriginal symbols. She says much of the clothing she makes
is more contemporary with an indigenous flair.
She said it was a lot of pressure, but she was happy to do it.
"At this time in my career, doing it full time for 17 years,
to have this honour ... It totally makes everything worth it,"
"It's honouring my family, the women in my family. It's
the strength from those women. I wouldn't be here without them,
so it's honouring them."