Connecting with their culture

Christopher Vaughan
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Mi’kmaq Studies students learn how to tie ceremonial hand drums

Students in the Mi’kmaq Studies class at Appalachia High School in St. George’s received some hands-on teaching about their culture last week.

With help from community elders Terry and Kay Muise, along with class instructor Darlene Sexton, the two-dozen youth made ceremonial hand drums.

The Muises instructed the students on how to soak a piece of rawhide leather and then secure it to a wooden rim with rawhide lacing.

“It looks better than how I thought it would turn out,” said student Breanna Keating when she finished tying her drum with some help from friend Kyle Hayley. “But my arms hurt from pulling all the rawhide and laces.”

While some students quickly learned the proper tying techniques, others needed extra help from the elders.

“It was a bit hard wrapping it around,” said Riley Brumsey. “But it looks good now that it’s done.”

Muise said he was proud of all the students’ work.

“It’s been very educational for me and the kids,” he said. “They showed me how they are bringing their culture into their daily lives. This project has a lot to do with identity and they’re doing it as a family — sharing their talents and skills with each other. That’s really important.”

The project was made possible via the LEGACY (Learning, Educating, and Growing Arts and Culture for Youth) program, which is administered by the Cultural Connections division of the Department of Education.

“The program gets students involved in cultural projects with their community elders,” said Sexton.

She noted once the drums are completed and dried, the students will feast their drums with ceremonial medicines — including sage, cedar and sweet grass — which will wake up the drum spirits.


The Georgian

Organizations: Appalachia High School, Cultural Connections division, Department of Education

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