The beat goes on for Indigenous Awareness Week


Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Last week, PO2 Marielle Audet played her traditional Aboriginal drum at four locations on base to mark Indigenous Awareness Week. The yearly event to celebrate Canada’s Indigenous Peoples and their diversity of cultures, traditions, and values was recognized virtually this year due to COVID-19.

The musician is of mixed background, Indigenous and French, and when not playing clarinet with the Naden Band, she serves on the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group (DAAG).

“I wanted to see members of the DAAG and the Naden Band come together and help the base celebrate Indigenous Awareness Week and with their help and support we achieved that,” said PO2 Audet.

A second initiative was a video of band members and DAAG members performing a drum and singing solo Come Drum With Me from their home or other remote locations. Each person beat a segment of the song on one of the band’s 10 traditional Aboriginal drums. The drums were handmade in 2016 for the band’s Aboriginal drum group.

“While most of us in the video are professional musicians, none of us are professional singers, so while our drumming is very good, our vocals are really far from pitch perfect, me included,” she said.

They recorded their performances with their cameras or cell phones, and bandmate LS Laura Engsig put together the finished product.

The members who made the director’s cut are PO2 Audet, LS Laura Andrew, LS Simeon Westeijn, PO2 Greg Sly, PO2 Roy Styffe, PO2 Steve Donegan, and DAAG member Sgt Nikki Ducharme.

PO2 Audet wore a medicine pouch around her neck, an eagle feather, and two woollen braids to reflect her Métis heritage, while Sgt Ducharme, who is also Métis, wore a Métis sash and other traditional wear.

The video can be viewed on the Naden Band Facebook page.


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