Gary Stieman

Gary Stieman

First Nations drummers and singers visit Deni House

Peyal Laceese, Gary Stieman and Annette Frank visited Deni House last week to share some traditional drumming and singing.

Peyal Laceese, Gary Stieman and Annette Frank visited Deni House last week to share some traditional drumming and singing with the residents, something that takes place monthly during the summer months, often on the patio, and more often during the winter months.

“I’ve been doing powwow singing and drumming all my life, and I spoke my traditional language until I was six years old and started school,” said Tsilhqot’in youth ambassador Peyal Laceese.

“They’re amazing for our residents and elders,” said Tegwen Doering, Deni House assistant manager. “You can tell they love this, especially our First Nations residents.”

The drummers and singers took turns explaining the meaning of the songs.

“Our ancestors left us healing and knowledge: we need to keep our culture, language and traditions alive,” said Gary Stieman, who has also done regalia dancing at Deni House.

He shared with the residents a transformation that took place in his own life because someone shared a voice of wisdom with him.

“I’m here to share my greatest song with you,” he added. “I love and care for you all — we are here for you and this is what you mean to us.”

Peyal introduced himself in Tslhqot’in.

“It’s an honour to stand here and be in your presence,” he said. “English is my second language,” he explained. “I was brought up with the songs, language and knowledge that all of you hold.”

The drummers and singers performed a prayer song, an old Tsilhqot’in dance song and a lahal song. Peyal explained that the dance song he shared came from the archives and was more than 100 years old.

“An archivist came to Canada and recorded this song,” he stated. “It took a while to transcribe it from an old version of our language. It talks about a coyote dancing on the land and the people praying for the coyote.”

Annette Frank shared a lahal song with the residents, which she said her sister-in-law translated into Tsilhqot’in.

“I believe in the traditional songs that reflect the medicine wheel: they help with mental, spiritual and physical healing,” she explained to the residents. “We’re here today to share this with you.

“These words mean, ‘Where I go I’m always thinking of you and praying for you until we meet again.’”