Cultural connection is at the heart of a new workshop aimed to engage youth at Ranch Ehrlo.  

Northern programs are implementing a new drum making workshop entitled, “The Heartbeat of Mother Earth Drum Teachings and Making Basics”. The six-week workshop will be led by artist Leah Marie Dorion and Métis youth Richard Louis Lafferty.

Leah, who lives in the Prince Albert area, is a seasoned and well-known Métis artist who curates work with a celebratory focus on the strength and resilience of Indigenous women and families. Leah will be assisted by Richard, an interdisciplinary artist and proud member of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan.

“Leah is so passionate about mentoring children and about the need for cultural engagement with youth in care. She is also so creative, patient, and kind, and I could not have thought of a better person to teach our youth about something so significant: the drum and its connection to Mother Earth and spiritual practices,” said Brianna Hill, youth care leader and workshop organizer. “Our kids have faced an immense amount of trauma, and as a result, are often unable to manage their emotions, form a sense of identity, and create lasting, meaningful relationships. I feel that engagement with something so powerful, such as the creation of the drum and rhythmic drumming, will give youth a sense of self to hold on to and will hopefully empower them to seek further cultural connection and support.”

The two workshop leaders will share teachings and explain the process used to make drums as they demonstrate and guide youth who want to participate in the different steps. Because drum making is a complex art form and some people are not called to the actual hands-on making, some youth will try to create while others will only observe and learn.

Nonetheless, the workshops will give all participants a foundation for future learning about the drum through singing, making, and experiencing the healing cultural practice.

“It is sometimes hard for our youth to sit and focus long enough to gain adequate teachings, so I think working with their hands and being part of a team to create something wonderful, will allow an opportunity for the learning experience to be something they remember,” said Brianna.

Jamie Lerat, Indigenous advisor at Ranch Ehrlo, said the workshop series is an incredible opportunity for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth.

“When non-Indigenous youth participate and support such cultural activities it helps them have a better understanding and respect for Indigenous cultures and the ways of knowing traditions, protocols, ceremonies, and so forth,” she explained. “Participating in these types of cultural activities helps contribute to a broader mindset and diminish stigmas and stereotypes – it is all part of walking that path of truth and reconciliation together.”

Brianna’s hope is that through this workshop youth will gain a greater sense of connection to communities that share their similar cultures and beliefs.  

 “I want our youth to know they are a part of something bigger than themselves; I want them to understand that they have a story in their blood, and they deserve the right to tell that story through the sharing of knowledge and tradition.”