Gratitude for the 101 Deweguns Project & Grandmother's Voice
Grandmothers hold a venerated place in our lives. They are elevated for their perspective and wisdom as well as their stories from a different time. When we know the voice of our Grandmothers, we know something about where we have come from and we hear them calling us to think about the future. When we think about the story of settlers on Turtle Island, we know the time has come to re-centre the knowledge of Indigenous Grandmothers.
At Sterling Hall, we are coming to understand that learning through relationship is a model we can extend to figuring out how we can take meaningful steps towards Reconciliation. We were fortunate to meet Grandmother Jackie and her partner Oliver from the 101 Deweguns Project in April. This connection was made through the relationship we are growing with Grandmother’s Voice, a collective of Indigenous Women who utilize traditional means and methods in their roles as teachers and healers with the Halton Urban indigenous Wellness Project. These Grandmothers are teaching us how to participate in Reconciliation.
Having a chance to participate in the 101 Deweguns Project was exceptional. With the support and guidance of Jody Harbour from Grandmother’s Voice, we had an entire day of learning, sharing, making, drumming and singing through our participation. In the Ojibway language, Dewegun means “living heart”. This legacy project reaches out to engage school children in the physical making of 101 traditional Hand Drums and Strikers. The project also engages and supports the creative talents of artists from across Canada in telling their stories of intergenerational residential school impact through the painted canvas of the Drum. Over the course of the day, students sanded drums and strikers, bathed in the medicine of wood smoke as they decorated drum frames with wood burning kits, and sang and drummed with Grandmother Jackie and Oliver.
The boys put their energy, love, and joy into the Drums they were making so that those Drums could go on to be held by another and another and another as they travel the country giving learners a way to participate in Reconciliation. We look forward to watching this project unfold and tracking the drums as they make their way to artists across Canada.
While the time was short and our efforts were only a small part of something much larger than us, building relationships, and our participation in Reconciliation, has to begin somewhere. This was a joyful starting point.
Grandmother’s Voice is keen to build a relationship with your school and the 101 Deweguns will benefit from the joy and energy of many more hands building them! Please contact Jody Harbour at Jody@grandmothersvoice.com or visit Grandmother’s Voice for more information.
Article by Drew Gulyas, Director of Faculty Development and Innovation, Experiential Learning Program Coordinator