Indigenous drummers join pan-Canadian drum circles Sunday in Victoria Park

Indigenous drummers will be uniting to cast “healing vibrations” throughout Canada on Sept. 12. 

Drummers from Ontario, New Brunswick and British Columbia will drum together for healing

Recording artist Brenda MacIntyre will join in the drumming from Victoria Park in London, Ont. (Submitted by Michele-Elise Burnett)

Indigenous drummers will gather in Victoria Park in London, Ont. and across the country Sunday to play in unison to cast "healing vibrations" for those suffering trauma.

Drums Across Canada is a new program created by artistic director Michele-Elise Burnett, as part of the annual three-day Celebration of Nations. 

Drumming will begin at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines at 4:00 p.m. EDT. Drummers in New Brunswick, British Columbia and London will respond to the call of those drums with their own beats. 

"Right now we need healing, and we can only do that if we join together across Canada and send out these healing vibrations that only the drum can really ripple out," Burnett said. 

Michele-Elise Burnett is artistic director of Celebration of Nations, an annual three-day Indigenous arts gathering in the Niagara region. (Submitted by Michele-Elise Burnett)

All of the drumming will be broadcast through a virtual livestream, enabling others to join in from home. 

Non-Indigenous peoples are also encouraged to take part and benefit from the drumbeat, which Brunett said serves as medicine by mimicking the heartbeat of Mother Earth. 

"We are hoping that we could really send up a message of unity, peace, respect and friendship, and to bring us all together and to heal together and to forge a new paradigm shift that we need to create transformable and sustainable changes, and healing changes that we can do together." 

Warrior Womyn drum in London

In London, drumming will be led by recording artist Brenda MacIntyre and Warrior Womyn of Positive Drum. London's drummers will meet at 3 p.m. at Victoria Park for an opening smudge ceremony before the virtual broadcast takes place. 

Warrior Womyn of Positive Drum will also be drumming at Victoria Park on Sunday. (Submitted by Michele-Elise Burnett)

"When we're singing for healing and prayer, such as the event that we're doing right now, we know that we're able to connect with our ancestors and connect with the creator," said Colleen Jamieson, a member of Warrior Womyn of Positive Drum. 

The group was formed out of the Positive Voice program at Nokee Kwe, and performs and sings throughout Ontario. 

"We just really want to echo and really amplify the healing and the message that we're able to share with our singing and drumming," Jamieson said. 

"So the residential school survivors, the ones that didn't make it home, the murdered, missing Indigenous women, as well as the families of the women who haven't been found yet, and the women of our community because they have a very important role — we're helping them as well."

Burnett said she hopes to make Drums Across Canada an annual event, and to help raise awareness of what she described as an ongoing mental health crisis affecting Indigenous youth. 

Burnett said the concept came to her through a vision during the Strawberry Moon in June. 

Participating drummers are: 

  • Warrior Womyn in London's Victoria Park
  • Strong Water Women in St. Catharines, Ont. 
  • Eastern Circle and Pokuhulakon Witsehkehsu (Sisters of Drums) in Saint John, N.B.
  • Hishuk'ish Tsawalk Drum & Dance Group in Nanaimo, B.C. 
  • Ecko Aleck in B.C.