Ella Lamoureux is a truly Canadian drag queen. Heralding from the Kaska First Nation, whose traditional territory covers parts of northern British Columbia and southeastern Yukon, Ella’s ancestral people have lived in what is now Canada for thousands of years. For her part, Ella has lived in Kelowna - which she aptly describes as a “warm oasis” - for 10 years.
When not in drag, Ella is Dustin Dufault. Identifying as a two-spirit individual, Dustin says he and Ella are “one and the same.” Dustin is Ella and Ella is Dustin. He explains:
“Ella is no different from Dustin... My personality doesn't change when I'm in a pair of pants or a dress. I identify as two-spirited. I feel the feminine and masculine energies freely flow through me and that tends to blur the lines between Ella and Dustin. This is also the reason why I don't see Ella as a separate entity that I can transform into on show night but just an aspect of who I am. It's also most likely the reason that no one sees the difference between Ella and Dustin. I love that. I feel that's pretty unique.”
While Ella and Dustin are the same person, Dustin has noticed one significant difference:
“Ella can get away with a lot more than Dustin can. That's the only difference. It's the worst difference. Ella can ask a man to take off his shirt and he most likely will but when Dustin asks a man to lose clothing it is usually met with a kind laugh. That's a hard no - that is what that laugh says!”
Enthralled with the process of transformation and a talented make-up artist to boot, Dustin has been performing as Ella for eight years. While always interested in drag, he was initially reluctant to fully embrace it as part of his identity:
“I'm sure it was because of some inner turmoil that infringed on my very moderate toxic masculinity or lack thereof because I didn't need another aspect of myself to portray even more femininity. Turns out that was exactly what I needed - Ella needed to be born!”
These days, Ella is very much a part of Dustin’s identity and vice versa. Ella’s performances and looks, which you can often see at local drag shows, are inspired by the world of burlesque: “I love the sultriness and the allure of sex. The art of the tease. Burlesque is so visually appealing and I want my drag to emulate that.”
Like many of us, Ella likes to, shall we say, drink in the Kelowna lifestyle… She is charmed by the region’s warm climate, the great friends she has made here and, perhaps most importantly, the plethora of amazing wineries in the area. In fact, no matter the season, Ella always finds plenty to wine about…
“My favourite seasonal activities are wine. Enjoying Quails’ Gate Chasselas, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris blend in the summer, Gray Monk's Pinot Auxerrois in the spring, CedarCreek Estate Winery’s Block 3 Riesling in the fall or Indigenous World Winery's Gewurztraminer in the winter. There’s so much delicious wine in our valley!”
Speaking of Indigenous World Winery though, it is Ella’s pick of the bunch:
“My favourite local winery is Indigenous World Winery. Their wine is pretty awesome... The stories they have that go along with some of the wine labels are also pretty neat. You'll have to check them out and go for a tasting and hear all the tales! My favourite wine from the Indigenous World Winery is their Pinot Gris. Everyone needs to check this place out!”
As a lover of food and wine, it’s no wonder that Ella enjoys living in Kelowna so much, but if you wanted to take this Canadian queen out for dinner in Kelowna, there is one particular restaurant that has stolen her heart:
“My favourite Kelowna restaurant is RauDZ. I love that they locally source a lot of their ingredients and the menu is seasonal. More restaurants should follow that credo. My favourite dish is their bacon-wrapped plums and I love any seasonal martini they make - and they call the bar staff Liquid Chefs! That should be reason enough to check the place out…”
Despite the fact that some of her local drag sisters like to lovingly call her names such as “SmElla,” “SalmonElla” or “CrueElla,” Ella has “a lot of love” for the local queer community:
“The LGBT2Q+ community in Kelowna is great. The community has always been very loving and accepting. When I first moved to Kelowna, I did not feel like an outsider and quickly made friends. I have made my strongest social connections here and I love Kelowna for that. The drag scene has such a strong connection to each other in Kelowna and it's inspiring to have that sisterhood…”
Kelowna Pride is Ella’s favourite annual event and like so many of us, she was blown away by the support the community showed for this year’s celebrations:
“Seeing the turnout this year was awe-inspiring. Watching Kelowna grow with an aim to inclusivity and acceptance is something Kelowna should have pride in. I know that I have a lot of Pride to call Kelowna home.”
That’s something we can all drink to… cheers!
You can find Ella on Facebook at Ella.Lamoureux or on Instagram at @KaskaKween - a nod to her heritage.
Article originally published November 7, 2019.