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The Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre hosts hand drum-making workshops

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A group of men learned how to make hand drums during the Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre’s Men’s Hand Drum Teachings workshop on April 23 in Thunder Bay.

By Rick Garrick

THUNDER BAY — The Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre (TBIFC) held two successful hand drum making workshops for youth and men on the weekend of April 22-23 in Thunder Bay. The Youth Hand Drum Making and Men’s Hand Drum Teachings workshop was held on April 22 and the Men’s Hand Drum Making workshop was held on April 23.

“(The Men’s Hand Drum Making workshop) went exceptionally well — we had more than 90 per cent of the participants show up,” says Genevieve Desmoulin, Indigenous languages revitalization coordinator at TBIFC and Biigtigong Nishnaabeg citizen. “The clients seemed very eager and excited to learn about the teachings behind carrying a hand drum and excited for the upcoming programs as well.”

Desmoulin says the participants used moose or elk hides to make their hand drums during the hand drum-making workshops.

“We purchased some pre-made drum frames out of bent wood and our instructor (Donald Michano) taught us how to lace it and how to pull the lacing and as well how to tie the handles on the back,” says. “The drum represents the heartbeat and it’s very significant to our culture to carry these. They can use it in ceremony, to sing for healing, for prayers, for song, and just to [overall] feel good, so I think it is really important for our men to be able to connect back to their culture and to start their own healing journey.”

Desmoulin adds that the TBIFC will be holding Men’s Hand Drum Teachings for all ages from 6-8 p.m. on every second Tuesday from May 2-June 27 at the TBIFC. Information about the Men’s Hand Drum Teachings is posted on their Facebook page.

“We have Todd Genno (a Biigtigong Nishnaabeg citizen) coming in to do hand drum teachings that go along with these drums so that we learn the songs that they carry,” Desmoulin says.

Michano, workshop instructor and Biigtigong Nishnaabeg citizen, says he taught the participants in both workshops an understanding of their way of life.

“It’s a connection back to who we are as people,” Michano says. “We always try to promote wellness and the goodness in life, and that’s what we all learn from is doing things. The guys were pretty OK with learning and understanding and teaching — it was good.”

James Nash, a Pays Plat citizen, enjoyed learning how to make a hand drum during the Men’s Hand Drum Making workshop.

“I’m really happy I came here today, I’m just happy to get up and do more Indigenous stuff because I wasn’t raised Indigenously,” Nash says. “I don’t know anything about my culture so it was nice to come out here and learn. It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be and I’m quite happy with my drum.”

Payton Day, youth life promotions worker at TBIFC, says the youth also enjoyed the Youth Hand Drum Making and Men’s Hand Drum Teachings workshop.

“Our youth cut out the hides into the circle shape and then also cut out the [lacing] to be able to put the hide onto the drum,” Day says. “It’s greatly appreciated that we have individuals within the community that can come in and help out our youth.”

Tyler Hubbard, student at Westmount Public School in Thunder Bay and Biigtigong Nishnaabeg citizen, says the Youth Hand Drum Making and Men’s Hand Drum Teachings workshop was fun.

“I never made a drum before, it was pretty fun,” Hubbard says, noting that he often attends pow wows. “I have five siblings and I’m the only one who has a drum.”

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