Janice Chan writes about her first experience at the Big Drum Social
A few weeks ago, I went to the Big Drum Social at The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto for the first time. I wanted to join the program because I’m thinking of teaching up North in Aboriginal communities. I thought it would be a great experience to make some new friends and learn about the Native culture. It was an eye-opening experience.
First of all, I realized that there are diversities within this ethnic group! They have a wide range of eye and hair colours. If they didn’t tell me where they came from, I wouldn’t have thought they were from the same culture! Of course, they were many non-Native visitors there as well. Therefore, I couldn’t make any assumptions about anyone’s ethnicity.
Secondly, I was amazed by how parents had passed on their cultures to their next generation. It was impressive to see people of different generations sitting around the big drum, beating the drum, and singing songs with such unity. How often do we see that in our modern Canadian society?
Finally, came the dance, my favourite part of the program. It was the body language that allowed everyone to bond with one another. Although I have several First Nations friends, this was the first time that I got to experience their culture physically. At the beginning, I didn’t know many people at the Social and I didn’t know how to start a conversation about Native culture. However, after joining everyone in the dance, several people taught me how to do it. They gave me the chance to understand more about the relationship between dance, music and their beliefs.
It was a great experience and I will visit again with my sister next time because she’s keen on drums!
Note: the Big Drum Social takes place at 16 Spadina Road (Spadina Subway Station) every Thursday evening 6-9pm. Everyone is welcome. Telephone for information 416-964-9087. Native Canadian Centre web-site: http://www.ncct.on.ca .