Indigenous

Drumming across the country closes out Celebration of Nations

Beginning in St. Catharines, Ont. Indigenous drum groups coast to coast close out the fifth anniversary of the Celebration of Nations.

'It took two people to have one child and five million to remember who they are.'

Drumming began at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines, Ont. (Dale Manucdoc)

Across the country today, hundreds of people gathered together to drum in unison to acknowledge the truth of residential schools that continues to be uncovered.

From Nanaimo, B.C. to Saint John, N.B., coast to coast, Indigenous people drummed together for two hours and shared their stories and their truths.

"This whole movement started with 215 children being found," said Ann Paul in Saint John, N.B., during the event, which was live streamed across the country.

"It took two people to have one child and five million to remember who they are," she said.

Celebration of Nations was brought to a close this year with the Drums Across Canada event. (Michael Aitkens)

The event, called Drums Across Canada, wrapped up the fifth anniversary of the Celebration of Nations. 

In St. Catharines, Ont., Michele-Elise Burnette, the artistic director of the Celebration of Nations said the purpose of the celebration is to bring together and share diverse Indigenous cultures and traditions across Canada.

"We're in a lot of pain right now," she said. "We need to work together, we really need to think about redefining the heartbeat of this nation and we can only do that with respect, peace and friendship."

The Celebration of Nations was brought to a close this year with the Drums Across Canada event, which ran over a two hour period beginning at 3:30 p.m. EDT in St. Catharines. 

It included a traditional "call and response" style of song where a call in the song is followed by an answer from additional participants. 

"This year in particular was about matriarchy and knowledge keeping," said Sabrina Shawana, who is from Wikwemikong Unceded Territory, Ont.

"It was really significant and impactful as a group," Shawana said. She currently lives in Fort Erie, Ont. and is the lead facilitator and co-founder of the Niagara Women's Drum Group.

She added that being a part of and witnessing the event "is what dreams are made of."

Alexis Isaacs who is Mohawk and Anishinaabe said that the event was powerful because so many Indigenous people had everything they knew taken away from them.

She said she watched the news every day and hearing about the more than 200 unmarked burials discovered near a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., made her sad because that could have been her grandpa and she wouldn't be here today.

"You have always been good enough no matter what anyone has ever said, you are the best," is the message she hopes other Indigenous people receive watching the event.

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