For Peter George, teaching a group of students about Wet’suwet’en culture and how to make a drum isn’t something he’s always been able to do.
“When I was growing up, you couldn’t do a lot of this stuff. It wasn’t really allowed. A lot of the culture got lost through residential schools. Through government forced assimilation.”
Eleven students learned how to make a drum on Saturday. Nigel Fox was one of the participants. He says the lesson began with learning about First Nations traditions.
“We were taught the ideas behind the drum. And what it means in traditional native cultures. Then we went into the nitty-gritty of how to cut out the drum skin.”
George explains it’s a lengthy process.
“They make the drum out of one deer hide, they cut the top off and then they make all of the lacing themselves. Once they get it cut out they have to let it soak for about two hours in water.”
George also taught the students that in order to make a drum you must be in a happy and calm state.
“Your energy is going into making the drum. If you’re angry, a little bit warped, that’s what will happen to your drum. It will warp a little bit. It will twist.”
Students at the class all had different reason for signing up. Fox says he came on Saturday because he always wants to continue to learn new things.
“With art, you’re always learning. Even a basic course or an intermediate course, you’ve always got something to learn. You’re always growing or else you’re dying.”
Taking part isn’t cheap, the class costs over two hundred dollars. But Fox says he didn’t give it a second though.
“It’s well worth the money, and when you’re done you have something to hold in your hands. A piece that you’ve made. And sometimes you can surprise yourself.”
And for students like Fox, who are eager to learn, George says he is happy to teach.
“A lot of people took a great interest in it, the spirituality of our culture and our traditions is making a big comeback now.”