Making a traditional hand drum is a keystone of the Cariboo Friendship Centre’s Choices Boo-Maga program.
In First Nations tradition people give away the first drum they make.
“The feeling you get when you see people make their first drum is overwhelming,” says instructor Joanne Twan.
She says every drum has a unique sound depending on the natural variations in the buckskin used and how tightly or loosely the skin is stretched over the frame.
People will take their time feeling the wet skins to select just the right one for their project.
People can paint their drums with their own free-hand designs, or use stencil patterns. The first drum kit is free.
Choices program manager Kellie Hopkin’s dad, Terry Hopkins, has made some wooden sticks from poplar and willow branches for people to use.
One unique method for creating a soft end for the drum stick involves filling a finger cut from a leather work glove with cotton and tying it onto the end of the stick.
The youth and elders are also in the process of learning how to make a traditional dip net for fishing.
This is a fascinating process in which the frame for the dip net is created from a young sapling while it is still growing.
Specific saplings are selected in the spring when they are quite pliable. The young trees are stripped of their branches and bark, then pulled around to create a circle. The tree is tied to itself in the circle shape and left to cure in the shape until the fall when it is cut down and the process of adding the netting and long wooden handle begins.
Hopkins says a group of youth went on a field trip last spring with the friendship society’s assistant executive director Rosanna McGregor to start a dip netting project.
Now she says they need to find someone who knows how to make the netting.
“We are always looking for new ideas and more elders to participate with us,” Hopkins says.