Teaching traditions: police participate in drum-making workshop

Tk’emlúps Rural

2024-01-18 09:17 PST

A hand drum with the BC RCMP Indigenous Policing Services logo.

View larger image: a hand drum with the BC RCMP Indigenous Policing Services logo.

With elk rawhide and wooden frames, Kamloops RCMP officers worked a new beat recently to better connect with the rhythm of Indigenous culture.

Throughout late November and December, members of the Tk’emlúps Rural RCMP Detachment’s Indigenous Policing Service (IPS) offered workshops on the art and tradition of hand drum building to approximately 60 Kamloops officers and civilian staff.

It’s another step in the process of reconciliation within the RCMP, said IPS Constable David Bigcharles, one of the officers who presented the workshop with permission from the Tk’emlúps First Nation. By showing members the culture of the Indigenous people, it helps provide a better understanding into the Indigenous peoples way of life. By learning how to make something, they’re able to share and teach others the same.

Three police officers work on a traditional circular hand drum on a table in front of them.

View larger image: three police officers work on a traditional circular hand drum on a table in front of them.

In the summer, the Tk’emlúps IPS coordinated a flint-knapping workshop on arrow head-making, which was also met with enthusiasm by officers.

To make the drums, participants were provided kits that included soaked elk rawhide in which they stretched and wrapped around a circular wood base. Afterwards, the drums were placed on their sides away from direct sunlight, for about a week, until they were tight and dry.

The hand drum is a sacred instrument in Indigenous culture, symbolizing life and the beating heart, said IPS Cst. Mark Janus, who assisted Cst. Bigcharles with the workshop’s facilitation. For many, playing the drum is a healing process that brings power to its drummer. The drum is to be respected and taken care of as if it was a family member, and never to be used while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Placing a drum face down is like putting your grandmother’s face in the earth, said Cst. Janus to emphasize the importance of caring for and respecting the hand drum.

He also reminded participants that the drum contains their energy and one day it may tell them it’s ready to be passed on to someone else.

Everyone loved making the drums and learning about the history of what they’ve made, said Cst. Bigcharles. I think it will help them understand the culture better and how it works, the meaning and significance of cultural items, and why these things are important.

A police officer works on the handle of a hand drum.

View larger image: a police officer works on the handle of a hand drum.

Since the workshop many officers have approached Csts. Bigcharles and Janus with an interest in painting their drum and having it traditionally smudged. It’s something the team is working on, along with an upcoming session on spear-making.

Released by

Cpl. Crystal Evelyn

Media Relations Office
Kamloops RCMP
560 Battle Street, Kamloops, BC V2C 6N4
Office: 250-828-3193
Fax: 250-828-3034

Email: crystal.evelyn@rcmp-grc.gc.ca
Website: kamloops.rcmp.ca

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