Remembering Grandma Hugs


I received some incredibly sad news today. Yesterday, February 24th, 2011, Therese Lebeau passed away. Most of you know her as Grandma, or Grandma Hugs.

This note was posted on our Facebook wall by her son Michel:

Hi There. I’m Michel…. Grandma Therese’s son. It’s with great sadness in my heart that I must inform you all that Grandma passed away yesterday after a short fight with cancer. I was in Montreal with her last week and got to make my peace with her. While I was there, she shared with me that her last 3 Shambhala experiences, all the people she met, all the hugs she shared, and all the new things she experienced were among her best memories as she prepares herself for the other side. So if you are one of the Shamily member who got to hug Grandma, I say “Thank You for making my mom feel special and loved”.

This post rendered me speechless. I sat down and had a good cry.

Grandma, possibly more so than any other single Shambhala attendee, has made a huge impact on our festival and it’s culture. Over the past 3 years, a Grandma Hug became a rite of passage. Therese was nothing short of inspiring. Her love, and her acceptance of people from all walks of life in our Farmily showed me a grace that it’s sometimes easy to forget we humans have.

I’d like to share a bit of my experiences with Grandma in honour of her memory.

I’ve known Therese’s son, Michel, through the Shambhala forums for years now, probably since about 2005.

Grandma’s first Shambhala was 2008, the same year I first started working at the Shambhala office. I remember getting a phone call from Michel that spring, asking permission to arrive on the Tuesday with Grandma because he was afraid waiting in the lineup in the mid-day heat would be too much for her. I happily made the arrangements for them – thrilled that they would be attending with 3 generations of their family.

I was posted at the gate, that pre-Shambhala Tuesday. It was the only year I worked at the gate. And when Michel rolled in with his RV and Grandma – hot, sweaty, tired and dusty though I was, they immediately put a smile on my face. As their tickets were being processed, I walked over to greet them.

Then something really special happened. I received the honour of Grandma’s first Shambhala hug. I didn’t know then what that meant. I had no idea she would become an iconic Shambhala figure. But when I look back now, I feel truly blessed.

At Shambhala 2009, I had the pleasure of spending about an hour with Therese, one on one. We talked about the festival, and what it meant to her. She said some deeply touching things. Things that made me feel all at once very blessed, and proud to do what I do.

We know that this festival that we craft so carefully is a hugely positive experience for many people, but nothing quite solidifies that like the words coming directly from someone’s mouth.  She thanked me. And I thanked her. That simple hour of conversation with her was probably one of the best and most meaningful experiences I’ve ever had at Shambhala. It was an oasis of calm among the chaos. An interaction full of mutual appreciation for each other.

Unfortunately, in 2010, I didn’t get my Grandma Hug, nor did I see her. My showtime work/sleeping schedule changed in such a way that our paths didn’t cross. Which, today as I write this, I hugely regret.

I would like to thank Grandma for being a part of Shambhala History. Her unconditional love, the kind that could only come from a grandparent, has been such an inspiration. Shambhala 2008-2010 were truly special because of her.

So Shambhaznes, please take a moment to remember Grandma. To Michel, her grandson Zach, and the rest of the family – our thoughts and hearts are with you.

Rest in Peace, Grandma. You are loved by your Shamily. 12,000 strong. You will not be forgotten.

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About Shambhala Music Festival

It's all about the people on the dancefloor.
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24 Responses to Remembering Grandma Hugs

  1. Robb McCaghren says:

    So, SO sad to learn that Grandma Hugs passed away. 2008 was my first year as well, and I was REALLY sick… I didn’t get a hug my first year out, but 2009, I introduced my girlfriend to Shambhala, and to Grandma, and my GF got her first Grandma hug… and cried, she was so moved by it. We both still have our “Hugged by Grandma” pins, and will be wearing them in August, in her memory.

    RIP Grandma. All of us will miss you!

  2. snowphish says:

    Such an amazing person 🙂 she’ll never be forgotten as a shambhalitteee ❤

  3. SYRAZ says:

    Please bring something made from your hearts to Shambhala this year in her honour! Grandma Hugs will never be forgotten.

  4. Erin Gladney says:

    Thank you so much for making this page!!!!! This is so beautiful!!!!! I love you Grandma xoxoxoxox

  5. Brittany Bergenstrom says:

    Grandma was an amazing lady. She had a huge heart and a great sense of adventure. She will be missed by soooo many people. Love you Grandma! xo

  6. Acemagic says:

    So very very sad to hear this. What an inspiration she was. We love you grandma! You will live in our memories forever!

  7. Touched says:

    I’m crying tears of pure love right now. This is moving beyond belief and I’m truly grateful to have experienced her unwavering love for all of us. Shambhala is a pure connection to love and light in every way, this probably having been the biggest.

    Lets all dedicate Shamb 2011 to Grandma Hugs and spread her love in every way. <333333333333333

    RIP :' (

  8. huglvr says:

    RIP Grandma…you’ll be missed forever and loved always.

    This woman was the human embodiment of what we strive for at this gathering… Shambhala 2011 dedication, SECONDED… All in favor…?

    )*HUGS*( to All

  9. Mandiferous says:

    RIP Grandma, you’ve marked every one of my Shamb’s so far and your sweet personality and warmth and giving, and everything else you brought with you to us, will be very missed. Loves. xoxo

  10. Jodie says:

    My condolences to Grandma’s family. My husband and I (plus other crew members) made a point to visit her this Shambhala and receive our hugs. She will be greatly missed but fondly remembered.

    Love and peace to you Grandma. We will certainly miss you.

  11. mitch says:

    Shambhala just won’t be the same without our free grandma hugs. You will be dearly and lovingly missed Grandma Therese ❤
    My sincerest condolences go out to Grandma's family and homies. She was one fantastic lady

  12. Laura says:

    Thanks for the hugz Grandma… you truly made memerable moments at SHAMBHALA!

  13. Jewelz says:

    Truly an inspiration to us all…let’s all follow Grandma’s example and really open our hearts….hugs for everyone!!!

  14. Julie says:

    What an amazing legacy! Grandma will be missed for sure. Much love to Scott and his family.

  15. Adam Foster says:

    Everyone will miss Grandma Hugs! I’ve gone to Shambhala 4 years in a row and am hoping to make this year my 5th. I remember finding out about Grandma Hugs going to get one and all through out Shamb asking if my friends had gotten their Grandma hugs yet. It was a truly wonderful experience and just like getting a hug from your very own Grandma. I will definitely be wearing my Hugged by Grandma pin if I can attend again this year.

  16. jarret says:

    rip this is sad was one of my fave memories of shambles

  17. Shinecub says:

    I’m honored to say I was hugged by Grandma. She will be loved and remembered for many, many years to come and the impact she had will last forever! I will continue to wear my hug button with honor and love.

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  19. dean says:

    she was an AMAZING women and im deeply sorry that shes gone

  20. amanda says:

    I’ve always wanted a hug from Gramma. I’m one of those people that has tried every year to make it down to Shambhala and runs into some kind of problem everytime preventing me from going. I watch videos of the event and look at pictures and dream of going on an ongoing basis and have dreamed of one day getting a hug from Gramma Hugs and talking to her. I imagined the interaction with her to feel really good because she would accept me for who I am when I’m afraid that my own loving grandmother wouldn’t understand me. I’m upset that she’s gone now. My prayers go out to her family.

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  22. Ashley.B. says:

    2009 was my first Shambhala and one of my first memories as we were running around looking for a campsite was running past Grandmas campsite and seeing her sign, I immediately stopped in disbelief (partly picturing my grandma at Shambhala and being amazed at this woman) I got my grandma hug and that was the beginning to my never forgotten first Shambhala. I have tears as I’m writing this but only because it makes me so happy that this woman had such an impact on everyone and that she will be sorely missed this year…. missed but never forgotten. RIP Grandma Hugs, you’ll be there with us.

  23. RIP grandma! You changed the world one hug at a time 🙂

  24. megaminders says:

    seriously one of the best hugs of my life. so warm and cozy and full of love and acceptance. that will remain one of my fondest shambhala memories for the rest or my life. RIP Grandma Hugs

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