Indigenous

Young drummers to trade plastic bin for real drum after outpouring of support

A group of young Cree powwow singers are getting a real drum donated after thousands online watched a video of them drumming on a plastic tote bin with sticks.

Over 60 offers to donate a drum to boys from northern Manitoba.

Travis Hart (9), Marquis Nicholas (13), Gordon Nicholas (12), Wade Drake (8), and their mentor Fred Colomb. (Submitted by Doris Castel)

A group of young boys from Mathias Colomb Cree Nation in Manitoba are eagerly waiting for a new powwow drum to be delivered to their community after thousands online watched a video of them drumming on a plastic tote bin with sticks.

"They've been singing like that for the past two years," said Ruby Castel.

"Usually they find those kind of bins, and when they ask for a bin they get it. Then they use it."

Castel said she was walking by the boys in Pukatawagan when they asked her to record a video of them singing and drumming. The video has been shared over 5,000 times on Facebook since it was posted on Wednesday.

After posting the video, Castel said she received over 60 offers from across North America with people wanting to donate a real powwow drum.

Young drummers to trade plastic tote for real drum after outpouring of support. 0:57

"I feel happy and excited," said the drum group's lead singer Marquis Nicholas, after learning that a drum was being donated.

Castel said a woman from Tacoma, Wash., will be getting a drum for the boys.

'The drum will carry them'

The boys are calling their drum group Young Cree. 

Marquis Nicholas (13), Gordon Nicholas (12), Wade Drake (8), and Travis Hart (9) are best friends who have grown up on the same block together.

The boys learned how to drum from another young person in the community — 20-year-old Fred Colomb.

"He taught us songs, how to drum, and the seven teachings, and not to be bad," said Marquis.

Travis's mom Tesa Hart said it was important to acknowledge the mentorship that Colomb has given the young drum group.

"He's the person that got these boys to start [singing] and encouraged them to follow their dream," said Hart.

"And he's still supporting them every time he bumps into them out in the community and when there's community functions."

Colomb said the boys are around the same age as he was when he first heard the drum.

"With me knowing that they are getting a drum, it's very honourable," said Colomb.

"They will go a long ways with that; the drum will carry them."

Colomb said he is proud to see them carry on their traditions as First Nations people and hopes to see them out on the powwow trail when they get their drum.

About the Author

Lenard Monkman is Anishinaabe from Lake Manitoba First Nation, Treaty 2 territory. He is the co-founder of Red Rising Magazine and has been an associate producer with the CBC's Indigenous unit for three years. Follow him on Twitter: @Lenardmonkman1