Our School Drum: Building Community and Relationships

Jenny Pert, Melissa Ewanchuck, Michael Boos
  • showed up at the ceremony and pow wow… It was a very emotional time for me… I was overwhelmed with joy and happiness when we played the Grand Entry song.” ( Elder Victor Lyon)
  • “It’s great to see the public school system honour and celebrate Aboriginal culture. The look of pride and the display of humility from the Aboriginal students as they danced in to the Grand Entry song was moving. This is an exciting time to be an Aboriginal student in the public school system.” ( Eleanor Skead, Aboriginal advisor for the Keewatin-Patricia DSB )

The drum has had a far-reaching impact on our school, greater perhaps than any of us could have imagined. It has strengthened relationships in our school community:

“It is a comfortable feeling to have this wonderful gift in the school. The drum gives our staff and students the opportunity to learn more about themselves and to understand their path as they walk on the Mother Earth.” ( Teacher at Sioux Mountain)

When asked about the impact of the drum on their own lives, many of our students expressed pride in their culture, while others said the drum has helped them cope with their personal challenges. A grade 7 student said that the drum “helps you heal your problems and all of the difficulties in your life that you’ve been through.” A grade 6 student said: “I feel great because lots of stuff has been going on at home, bad stuff. Now, since drumming, there are no more tears at home. I have been asking the drum if it can help me at home and the drum has given me help and everything has changed.”

The sound of the drum continues to be with us every day at our school. Victor Lyon volunteers to drum with our students three days a week, while Jenny and the Intermediate girls gather around the drum for a healing circle at least twice each week. The drum is also an integral part of every native language class. It is not uncommon to see students in Jenny’s classes gathered around the drum, drumming, dancing or singing the “Eagle Song.”

“Since our school drum has arrived, and we have been using it, I have seen our children unite. I have seen respect come into our native language room and spread out into the school. I have witnessed individual healing around the drum. I have heard children teaching other children about the drum and how to be loving to it and others.” ( Teacher at Sioux Mountain)

From the principal’s window the other day, we could see three boys in the kindergarten playground area who had taken a box and tipped it upside down on the ground. They each had a stick in one hand and


Young children in winter wear standing out front of Waabgon Gamig First Nation School

Four years ago, the Georgina Island Indian Day School, located within the York Region District School Board, officially became the Waabgon

three musicians performing in front of classroom of elementary students

In the summer of 2012, Dana Campbell, a grade 2/3 teacher at Churchill Alternative School in Ottawa, heard a song that resonated so much fo