Connecting to Indigenous culture through hand-crafted drums

West Kelowna

2022-05-19 12:15 PDT

Being a school liaison officer means more than just making sure kids are not getting into trouble. Sometimes, it can lead to sharing a project with deeper connections.

In February 2022, the West Kelowna Indigenous Policing Unit started a drum making project in partnership with the Indigenous Leadership class at Constable Neil Bruce Middle School. Cst. Rohel Williams from West Kelowna Indigenous Policing Services initiated a project for students to learn and craft hand-drums using traditional indigenous techniques.

Photo of Cst. Williams standing at a classroom desk, showing a student how to build a circular drum.

A select group of students from grades 6,7, and 8 meet every week and work with Cpl. Williams to make individuals drums. These drums will be used in a special community ceremony for National Truth and Reconciliation Day. The students work hand in hand, building drums, designing the art work, and learning a traditional Okanagan Indigenous song. The drum project will run until the end of the school year. Cst. Sherri Lund and Cpl. MJ Williams have been assisting the class with the project. The Indigenous Policing Services unit provided all the material including the drums, frames and kits.

The students will also embark on a canoe trip along with members from Indigenous Policing Services to travel from Penticton to Westbank, learning team work and traditional water practices. The students will also paddle and view ancient pictographs accessed from the water. The kids will eventually present the custom drums to the Westbank First Nation Chief and Council in a special Truth and Reconciliation ceremony.

Photo of Cst Williams holding a circular drum frame in the classroom.

This project has bridged a gap between the students, the RCMP and school staff, says Cpl. MJ Williams, Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of Indigenous Policing Unit Westbank First Nation. The project represents something extremely special. The coming together of the RCMP and Indigenous students from a school named after a fallen RCMP officer, to further our relationships.

This initiative is one of the many ways RCMP officers find unique ways to connect to their communities on a local, grass-roots level.

Released by:
BC RCMP Communications

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