Students at Montecito Elementary spent many months on their Indigenous Drumming Project, gaining an understanding of Indigenous perspectives and knowledge through experiential learning. They created traditional drums under the guidance of Indigenous mentors.
Ultimately every child had a hand in it – from soaking or punching holes in the hides, or lacing the drums, to making drumsticks in various sizes. It was truly a school-wide project where everyone – including staff – joined in the learning. Principal Heather Kimmie describes how it all began:
Last spring we were fortunate to have some special guests share many types of Indigenous drums with us, and we were especially honoured to have three Burnaby North students – Hannah, Julia, and Isaiah – share their drumming with our classes.”
The students taught with pride and confidence and got the whole school excited about the project. There were more learnings when Candice George, an Indigenous performer of Dakelh and Wet’suwet’en ancestry, visited to tell stories, sing, and dance as part of the ArtStarts program. Additionally, on multiple occasions, Squamish Nation Knowledge Keeper Alice Guss came to the school to support staff and the students’ understanding of Indigenous cultures, spirit animals, legends, and drumming. Staff members also attended a Professional Development Day session with Knowledge Keeper Guss to learn about drumming protocols.
When the drums and drumsticks were complete, the learning continued with a two week “Artist in the School” residency. Métis musician Sandy Scofield worked with classes on Indigenous songs and protocols. She generously gifted Montecito some of her songs to continue to play in the future.
The Indigenous Drumming Project culminated in a performance this February. Parents and other special guests were invited to see the students demonstrating their learning of Indigenous culture through drumming and singing.
Indigenous Learning Inquiry teacher, Jessica Vaughan was the lead organizer for the project and is exceedingly pleased with the results:
The many opportunities in this project supported the students with understanding Indigenous music more deeply. It was fantastic to see how excited everyone was about the project.”
The school is grateful for the support of ArtStarts, Networks of Inquiry and Indigenous Education, and the school’s Parent Advisory Council, which all helped make the project possible.