Mary Anne Caibaiosai


Beating drums and melodic singing can be heard from the front of the Student Commons. Seven singers stand shoeless in a circle on the grass, sharing traditional music with the women of Algonquin.

“Now, we’re going to sing The Traveling Song,” says Algonquin alumni Pam Sevigni. “This song is to send someone on their way – on their own journey.”

Taking place every Tuesday from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. at the Mamidosewin Aboriginal Student Centre in the E-building, the women’s drum circle is free and specifically for all female students, staff and faculty regardless of age, cultural background or previous drumming experience.

Sometimes called The Heartbeat of Mother Earth, aboriginal drumming is a tradition taught by elders. They teach oral histories and stories through song and dance to the youth. For some tribes, the tradition maintains the importance of aboriginal identity, as it teaches young women valuable life lessons, says Mary Anne Caibaiosai, the host of the event.

After a brief pause, the singing continues. They move onto The Strong Woman Song, a song to show support and love to the women all over the world.

“I love that song,” says Elena Abel. “I’m happy to have learned it.”

The singing only stops to discuss what song will be sung next, offering a brief explanation of the meaning behind the song and why it matters to traditional culture.

Drumming was also sometimes used by medicine women as a way of healing and guiding those who have “lost their way,” a phrase meaning to offer support to those who are dealing with rough, personal situations.

The weekly hand-drum circle is organized by the Mamidosewin Centre and Student Support Services.

The event’s purpose is to share traditional culture with people through music and to help students unwind after a long week of classes and homework.