Growing Up in Silence (Part I)

Born of two deaf parents, Samme had to assume a lot of family responsibilities from a tender age.

By Frédéric Lebeuf

Now in her 30s, Samme decided to live out her dream and become a professional singer. She also decided to devote herself to a cause very close to her heart: since January of 2020, this singer-songwriter has been the ambassador for la Fondation des Sourds du Québec (the Quebec Foundation for the Deaf).

A Unique Upbringing
From the age of 3 or 4, Samme could communicate in sign language. That’s when she realized that her parents were deaf.

“When you go to friends’ houses and their parents can hear you, you realize that your situation is different than theirs,” she says.

Soon she learned to do things on her own, giving her a sense of responsibility. She had to perform adult tasks. For example, she had to answer the telephone, translate everything, arrange medical appointments and even manage the mortgage.

Since her mother tongue was sign language, school wasn’t that easy for her. “I had trouble at school,” she says, especially in French. “Tutors and speech therapists supervised me each term, and nobody at home helped me with my homework.”

Since syntax (the order of words) and verb tenses are simplified in sign language, she struggled with her courses. She had to work hard to perfect her French and get into Cegep.

“Since my parents were limited, they couldn’t just take any job. It was tough financially, because my father earned minimum wage and my mother stayed home. Regardless, we had some lovely family moments. Our house was filled with love, harmony, respect, and a sense of communication,” Samme recalls.

Her father was born deaf because his mother contracted meningitis during her pregnancy.

First seen in: Reflet de Société, Vol. 28, no. 3, été (summer) 2020, pages 12-14

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