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Youth Come Together Through Culture and Traditional Song

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When Brian Brass Jr. passed away from the community of Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation members gathered their sadness to create something beautiful that is setting them a part from the rest.
Child Development Worker Cindy Ray gathered some students from the Chief Charles Audy Memorial School to sing at his funeral and this was just the beginning.
“Afterwards a larger group of girls began practicing on a large drum made from a plastic bin,” said Chief Charles Audy Memorial School Principal Vanessa Zastre. “The school had a big drum in storage but we were not able to use it because of protocol. Only certain people are allowed to use that drum. So starting with a small hand drum they began their journey.”
The group consists of 10 girls from Grade 3-8 – Brooke Audy, Clara Kematch, Maria Crass-Kematch, Abigail Audy, Sadee Kematch, Justice Brandson, Joelle Genaille, Hazel Kematch, Alicyn Linklater and Jenelle Genaille.
“The group was formed because the students wanted it,” said Zastre.
The group collectively decided to perform at the school’s annual festival where they were recognized by Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre and invited to drum at the Lighting The Fire Educational Conference in Winnipeg.
“This is when we made quick work on getting their drum and to have a blessing ceremony for the drum,” said Zastre. “They are so excited and happy when it comes to cultural practice. It invokes a sense of pride for everyone involved.
“These activities are so important because it is forming our cultural identity. It is bringing back teachings from past generations that are either lost, forgotten or not practiced anymore.
“It is important to our community because there is a need for healing through cultural practise. When the girls perform you can feel the drum beat in your heart. It raises your spirit and a strong sense of pride surrounds you. I have seen the community members cry from pride. It’s amazing what the young girls have done for our community and I know that this is only the beginning.”
While the girls were getting a chance to perform provincially and make a change in their community they were still without a name to call themselves and decided The Beat of Our Nation (BOON) was the winning bid after a group vote.
Currently, Ray, Brenda Gaudry and others are sharing songs with BOON and helping them to learn the protocols associated with their new found craft.
“The BOON drum group enjoys performing for others and would like to thank all the people for the beautiful compliments,” said Zastre.
In the 2019-20 school year, drumming demonstrations can be organized through coordinator Brenda Gaudry at 204·236·4783.

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Jakki Lumax
REPORTER
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