Tammy Gray lost her hearing when she was one year old as a result of a childhood illness. Her parents moved from Vancouver to Kitimat when she was young where she met another hard of hearing boy at daycare and was encouraged to learn sign but it was difficult as her parents had a difficult time learning sign language. At the age of ten she moved back to Vancouver to attend the BC School of Deaf Education. There she met friends who were also hearing impaired and happily learned sign language. While she was at school she was better able to understand her Nisga’a heritage and was proud to learn she is from the killer whale clan and her family originates in Greenville.
At seventeen Tammy moved to Victoria for high-school as she needed extra support, particularly with English. She recalls her frustration and challenges with grammar and lack of personal support. She was depressed, embarrassed and felt hopeless but in adulthood has persevered and is taking English and Math as part of the Career & College Prep program at NWCC. She has made new friends and has a new found confidence in knowing other people need a little extra help too.
Tammy is working on a children’s book that will feature her three adult children and younger daughter who are all fluent in sign language. The story will focus on her family. She also plans to do another children’s book about her success as a swimmer in her teens. She won 9 gold medals and it is fitting that her Nisga’a name is “gwii hadixim hlbin” which means “a whale who swims a lot”.
Tammy had enrolled in Applied Business Technology ten years ago and upgraded then and now has ambition to establish herself in some kind of career, potentially small business. She writes, “what an amazing life! Education is FUN…”