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Tyee Elementary students awaken their drums and rattles with song and ceremony

| Categories: Events & Celebrations, Events & Celebrations

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Tyee students awakened their handmade drums and rattles at a drum awakening ceremony on June 3, 2022. Under the guidance of Elder Bob Baker, from the Squamish Nation, the rattles and the drums were blessed and brought to life. 

After the blessing, students sang three public songs, The Coast Salish Anthem, The Cherokee Morning Song, and Warrior Woman, which were gifted to the people to sing. To end the ceremony, Baker and three cultural performers from the Squamish Nation performed a traditional dance. 

The broader Tyee community of parents, caregivers and siblings watched from the field in rain gear and under umbrellas, as students sang and played their drums in perfect unison. At the end of the ceremony, Tyee teachers and administration shared bannock, the traditional fry bread enjoyed by many Indigenous communities, with all in attendance. 

Through the drum and rattle making process led by Davita Marsden, District Vice Principal of Indigenous Education, Tyee students participated in learning tied to their curriculum. “When measuring the circumference and height of drums, students use math and geometry,” says Marsden. 

Science is also incorporated as students learn through the process of tanning the skins used for their drums. “Even kindergarteners learn beats, patterns and shapes through making the rattles and drums and using them,” says Marsden. 

In past years, drum making at Tyee was reserved for Grade 7 students. This year, the whole school was able to take part. “It was a really interesting experience,” says Grade 7 Tyee student, Kate about the drum making journey. “We learned a lot and it was way harder than I thought it was going to be.” Over the past nine months, all intermediate students at Tyee participated in drum making while all the school’s primary students worked on rattles. “I’m really proud of what I made and I’m excited to have my drum awakened so I can play it,” says Grade 7 student, Auden. 

For Marsden, who completed her Doctoral dissertation on drumming, the act of drumming is not only educational, but also a trauma-informed practice and a form of reconciliation. “It ties us all to our ancestors and connects us to the first sounds we hear in the womb, our mothers’ heartbeat. It brings joy, builds connection and community,” she says. “This is one way we can bring back interest in Indigenous language and culture.” 

Join the District’s National Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration on June 21 at the Education Centre where over 200 student-made drums will be awakened.

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