The beating of drums and singing of voices is literally the rhythmic heartbeat of the Cedar Village Senior Citizens Home.
On May 29, a group of more than 20 First Nation Elders and friends gathered on balconies, pathways and in the parking lot of the residential complex to honour the front-line workers during COVID-19.
Nisga’a Elder Ron Nyce, organized the traditional drumming ceremony and said it was the residents way of giving thanks for the efforts of doctors, nurses and front line workers during the pandemic.
“Front line workers were doing all they can and they were actually putting their lives on the line. We all came together and said ‘lets go thank them too’,” Nyce said. “Every once in while we have a gathering, such as we did tonight, to thank them and to celebrate them too.”
“… part of what we are doing is to make people remember that there is still joy in the world because COVID has put a dark blanket over all of us, but, you have to continue. In doing the drumming and singing we all laugh with each other. It’s enjoyable.”
“We have had a lot of people up on the roads watching us and cheering us on,” Nyce said, with pedestrian passersby stopping and vehicle traffic pulling over to enjoy the ceremonial thanks.
Nyce said there are many different First Nations at Cedar Village, with some being, Nisga’a, Tshimsian, Haisla, Haida, Mi’kmaq and Cree.
“We all have different languages, so we utilize each one of ourselves to sing in their own language, and to sing their own song…”
Prayers are offered too, as well as the singing and drumming. Nyce said for him the ceremony is like going to church.
“We have prayers from our prayer warriors. As First Nations people we really know there is a Great Spirit – greater than ourselves. We can’t see him. We can’t hear him, but he is there,” Nyce said.
“So, we speak to him in prayer. We ask for guidance. We ask for blessings upon those that may be sick. (We pray) for doctors, nurses and all those that are front line. Also the store keepers, all those workers that can continue to provide us so we can continue to walk as normal as life can be for now, because COVID has got us on hold right now.”
At 72-years-old, Nyce said he is proud to be part of the drumming group.
“I am really happy to be with this group.”
The drum gathering can be heard on nights when there is good weather, at 7 p.m.
“We will continue to do this every once in a while…we waited for good weather. The weather has been pretty terrible for the older ones to be out. We didn’t want to impose on them to come out and then get sick… If the weather stays OK we will continue to come out and thank the front-line workers.”