Communities unite at Trafalgar drum circle

From left to right: Vina Augustine, Bertha Skye, Anita Laing, enjoying their time at the Drum Circle. Photo by Paula Laing.

From left,  Vina Augustine, Bertha Skye, and Anita Laing, enjoying their time at the Drum Circle. (Photo by Paula Laing)


The sound of drumbeats. The smells of sage and sweetgrass smudge sticks. Samosas, spring rolls, naan, and various other food items gracing a table in the corner near the bar. This was the atmosphere in the Marquee on the night of Feb. 11, for the Universal Drum Circle.

That night marked the second Drum Circle event held at Trafalgar Campus. The event was created with the intent of breaking down barriers between the aboriginal community and the larger community of Sheridan, Oakville, and beyond.

“Our intention is to make sure that we provide opportunities for First Nation, Metis, Inuit and all other Sheridan faculty, staff and students to learn more about our indigenous ways of life and knowledge,” said Paula Laing, student affairs and enrollment manager for the Aboriginal Initiatives Office at Sheridan.

“The drum [is] a method of healing, a method of sharing the importance that this is something that’s alive, and every culture has a drum.”

“We want to show people that the drum is the heartbeat of the nation.”

For Kayla Parisien, a member of the Sheridan Indigenous Alliance and first-year Social Work student, the event is also about raising awareness.

“I think especially because this event is commemorating the missing and murdered indigenous women, I think it’s important, and I think it’s really important nowadays to unite all different cultures and the drum is something that unites us all,” said Parisien.


The evening began with introductions from Laing and Clan Mother Vina Augustine. A bit later in the evening, attendees were invited to partake in a process known as smudging, where people bathe themselves in the smoke created by smudge sticks made from sage and sweetgrass.

“There are many different nations across Canada, and within those nations, people have medicines. Four of the sacred medicines are sage, sweetgrass, Indian tobacco or sacred tobacco, and cedar,” explained Laing.

“We have used the sage as a way of cleansing.” Laing explained that “we have a smudge hole of all the medicines, and we were smudging and clearing and creating a positive mind, positive heart, we were bringing in a sense that we’re all open minded.”

There were more than 25 people at the drum circle, including Juno award-winning Inuk musician Susan Aglukark, who performed at the event.

“Events like this are, I think, for a period, very critical in terms of the reconciliation process of the whole last five or six years of the aboriginal journey,” said Aglukark.

“As an aboriginal community, whether we be Inuit or First Nations or Metis, we have a responsibility to do events like this, but it doesn’t work if there’s no reciprocation. People who participate need also to be here with an open mind and an open heart, knowing that we are here to learn about each other’s cultures, [and] each other’s histories as well.”