Teagan Littlechief proud of how far she has come

January 4, 2023, 3:34 pm
Sierra D'Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Teagan Littlechief from White Bear First Nation sang Canada’s National Anthem in English, French, and Cree at the 2022 Grey Cup in Regina. Aside from being a musician, Littlechief also works as an addiction counsellor in hopes of inspiring youth

Teagan Littlechief from White Bear First Nations has been a musician all of her life. She has pushed through barriers such as addiction, and has achieved success in her music career.

From reaching milestones of winning radio competitions to singing the national anthem at Canada’s 2022 grey cup, Littlechief is proud of how much she has accomplished.

When she is not recording songs, she is working as an addiction counsellor and youth intervention support worker. She is also a mother to her son, Gabriel, who also carries a passion for music.

“I’ve been performing and competing since a very young age. I recorded my very first two singles when I was 11 years old, they were both songs that my mom had wrote,” she said.

“Later on, I went to re-record one of her songs. It was right around the residential school peak, the song is called ‘Wild Girl’ and it was about my mom and her sister.”

Around the early 2000s, Littlechief won two radio competitions. She also recently won the 2022 Saskatchewan Country Music Award for Indigenous Artist of the Year.

Before focusing on her music career more vigorously, Littlechief experienced a period of battling with drug addiction at a young age.

“When I was younger, I was a role model. I wouldn’t go out, I was a homebody, I was doing good for myself,” she said.

“I was doing sober and drug free presentations because I was young and in that era, kids my age were already experimenting and doing everything. I didn’t start dabbling into drugs and alcohol until I was about 18.

“When I was in high school I had a boyfriend and felt like because he drank, I wanted to drink too. From there is where my addiction started.

“Right near the end of high school I dropped out because I would rather be drunk or high than finish school. At the time, I was using music as a way to pay for my own addiction.

“I did go off and get sober, but it only lasted six months and I fell right back into it. I started noticing that my music was really taking a hit, that it was declining. It really showed that I wasn’t putting the proper amount of effort into it.

“I had a lot of opportunities to flourish in music and I let my addiction get the better of me.”

Through her journey of dedication and hard work to overcome her battle with addiction, Littlechief spoke about what her turning point was for choosing to get better.

“At the age of 24, I was in an abusive relationship. I had trauma as a young person, I went through heartbreak, I went through addiction, I was just trying to get myself sober and straight, but nothing was working,” she said.

“I ended up meeting this guy and became pregnant. At the time, we tried to make things work.

“I remember when I went into the studio being full-blown pregnant trying to sing, and it was tough. Anyone who says they can sing while being pregnant, I call their bluff,” she laughed.

“I then had my son, and he, unfortunately, had to see his mom under the influence. That’s when I really started messing with harder drugs and I burned so many bridges that I never thought I could rebuild.

“In 2017 is when I got a message from my mom. She was trying to get a hold of me because I was on a bender, and she really wanted me to come home because my son was sick.

“She sent me this picture of my son, I didn’t look at my phone all night. The next morning, I was coming back to White Bear with a friend. It was a silent ride, I decided to look at my phone and saw the photo. He was sleeping in his pajamas, all I could see was my baby looking all red, you could tell he was crying.

“After I dropped my friend off, I walked into my mom’s house. I didn’t acknowledge anyone, I saw my son, but I walked right into my mom’s bedroom and just said, I want help. I’m done, I need to get sober.

“And, just like that I was in detox. Shortly after that I was in treatment. I really didn’t see my son for like two months while I was getting sober.

“Then I thought, maybe I’ll give music another shot, I was already doing the anthem for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the anthem for the Regina Pats.”

A few years later, a Canadian country singer came into contact with Littlechief. It was then when she realized focusing on her music career was the right path to take.

“When 2019 came around, I was single, my son was excited because it was just mommy and me time again,” she said.

“All of a sudden I got this big rush because it meant that we could do music again. I just went on Facebook, because that’s when Covid started hitting and I started doing live Facebook jams, posting videos and having fun. Suddenly I had this big urge and Covid was trying to hold me back, but I just kept pushing through.

“Then, Sean Hogan called me and asked me to re-record his single ‘Vulnerable,’ right there is when my whole spirit just came back up to life. I was ecstatic, I felt this rush of excitement run over me.

“We recorded that song, then we recorded a Christmas album, then we did heartbreak songs. We recorded all these other songs too, then this year I get Indigenous Artist of the Year, then I get Saskatchewan’s big next thing, in the back of my mind I keep thinking, am I slowly rebuilding bridges with new people?

“It’s been a struggling 15 years, but I finally feel like I’m ready, whereas before I was sort of just going with the flow.”

Recently, Littlechief released a cover of the song ‘Indelible,’ which has gained a lot of attention.

“It’s getting a lot of plays right now, it’s playing on SiriusXM, on channel 171 and channel 155,” she said.

“It’s a song written by Sean Hogan, he’s the gentleman I’ve been working with these last few years. This is his song, it was for his mom and when I heard it, I wanted to record it for some of the families out here in the community because they’ve also lost someone very close to them.

“It was sort of a moment where I thought, I’d like to record this song and dedicate it to some of them.”

Proud of her achievements
Littlechief has been sober for five years now and is proud of how much she has accomplished in that time.

She currently works as an addiction counsellor and youth interprevention support worker hoping to inspire others.

“My mom was an addictions counselor, I grew up in a very protective home. My parents didn’t drink or do drugs with me, or around me at all,” she said.

“I was sheltered. I didn’t understand what addiction was at a younger age so my mom took me around while she was doing presentations. She would really stress, ‘you won’t be able to succeed if you’re under the influence all the time,’ and even though I was really young at the time, I saw the impact she would have on her clients.

“Till this day people say nothing but nice things about her and how great she was at her job, I always admired her for that and, it’s always been something I wanted to do.

“I love music, I’ve always wanted to do music, but at the same time I’ve always wanted to help others.”

During the pandemic, Littlechief went back to school to obtain her addiction counsellor certification.

“I thought I would work for the community to help adults, but then I realized I really wanted to help young people,” she said.

“I want to inspire them, to try to help motivate them, to show them that they don’t have to be stuck here. That there’s a whole world out there for them to see and not to feel stuck, because life is life wherever you go. The job was also in the community, here in White Bear, and the kids I have here are just so awesome.”

Littlechief was asked why representation of Indigenous artists and mentors, like herself, are important for the community.

“Growing up I was always the only Native performing at functions. I would be performing alongside non First Nations people,” said Littlechief.

“I often would tell my mom, I feel so dark. At the time that was my biggest thing, I felt so brown. As a Native I joke about that, but it was a real feeling because I felt left out. It took a lot of getting used to and pushing through to overcome that.

“Now, being able to stand up and stand proud, to be able to do the performances that I do anywhere is a good feeling. I’ve worked my behind off, even though I’ve had stumbles along the way, I’ve worked hard to be where I’m at right now.

“No one can take that away, I welcome criticism, but I won’t play into bullying. I find that people like to bully a lot more than be critical. Professional criticism is what I welcome the most, it’s helped my career and help me get to where I am.

“I haven’t heard of First Nation females getting into the positions that I’ve been blessed with.”

She spoke about her son, Gabriel, being a big inspiration to her.

“My son is my biggest focal point. Even when I do performances, his absence is truly missed when I’m by myself,” said Littlechief.

“If I don’t see him, in the back of my mind I’m always thinking if he’s okay, how he’s doing, even if he’s just at a friend’s house. When I do anthems he usually will come on the sidelines with me and watch me, or I’ll search for him out in the crowd and when I find him, I’m good.

“That’s the guy that motivates me. I want him to know that anything is possible. Hard work does pay off, we hear people say that all the time, but in reality I want him to understand that hard work really does pay off.

“You don’t get anything by just sitting down, our dreams don’t become true by just sitting in the corner playing on our phones or whatever, we have to get up and work for it.

“We’re going to stumble, we’re going to fall flat on our face, but recovering is always going to be our hiatus. It helps us learn from our past and our stumbles.”

Littlechief was asked what she sees for the future of her career.

“I am looking at 2023 to already be picking up in pace.

“I have another release coming out in January, it will be called ‘One Woman.’

“It’s a song about women in the world that have taken big steps to stand up, not only for themselves, but for their rights and everything around that. I mention Princess Diana in there, Rosa Parks, women like them.

“I just thought with everything going on in this world right now, this would be the perfect song to release.”