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3 Drums advances integration of Indigenous ways on campuses

There is a sign on the wall of the Mamidosewin Centre in E-building that lists seven values: wisdom, respect, love, humility, bravery, truth and honesty.

They’re not just words, however. They’re what’s behind the 3 Drums, 3 Campuses project.

3 Drums, 3 Campuses was designed as a method of linking the Ottawa, Perth and Pembroke campuses together through Indigenous traditions, teachings, and culture. Each campus has built their own drum with the assistance of Indigenous knowledge-keepers and drum-makers.

Most recently, the Centre saw the construction of a ceremonial drum on March 19 as part of an initiative to integrate Indigenous culture into the college.

The project was conceived by Indigenous initiatives managerAndre O’Bonsawin and Algonquin professor Jason Verboomen as a method of embedding traditional Indigenous teachings into the culture of Algonquin.

“The whole point of the project is to deal with truth and reconciliation,” said O’Bonsawin. “How do we work together with Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, and how do we move forward with embedding some of the Indigenous knowledge into the college?”

The construction of the Ottawa campus’ drum began around 11 a.m. In the leadup to the event, guests were invited to take part in a smudge, an activity where one douses themselves in a scented smoke. The smoke acts to cleanse and purify the body, as well as the number of smaller drums that were used to accompany Indigenous singers in the leadup to the construction.

“The drum is a living entity,” said Dave Hookimaw, one of the singers and drum-keepers who assisted with the project. “It comes from the trees and it comes from the animals. They gave their lives for it.”

The drum was constructed through traditional means. The body of the drum was cut and supplied by students in Algonquin’s cabinetmaking program. The drum-maker, Pinock, invited guests to assist him in the cutting and stretching of the Buffalo hide that covered the drum.

The only tools used to attach the hide were heavy-duty hole punches, a few sharp knives and a pair of scissors.

“The drum represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth,” said O’Bonsawin. “When you are in your mother’s womb, you hear the heartbeat, and the drum represents the heartbeat. In order for good things to spread between the three campuses, you need a heart. And that’s what the drums represent.”

The Mamidosewin Centre is located in the Student Commons, in room E122. It is open and available to everybody Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“It’s about unity,” said O’Bonsawin. “At the end of the day, it’s all about working together.”


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