I was taught how to sing by some beautiful women from Toronto. These women graciously gave their time to come teach women in my community. As a result, hand drumming has become a huge part of my life. When I started out, I was very shy and suffering from depression/stress/anxiety issues. Hand drumming helped me in so many ways and has been a big part of my recovery from these illnesses. Drumming has helped me deal with my social anxiety issues; I am able to bond with the beautiful women that have been part of my drum circles. Drumming has also given me confidence in myself to be able to stand and perform with various other women for events. It also helps with depression — when I am able to sing and pray from my heart, it lifts me emotionally as well as spiritually.
The drum is a powerful tool for helping women find their voice when they have been struggling to speak up for themselves. It is very empowering when you get the courage to sing — and even further, singing leads to song.
Every woman who joins our drum circle brings their own knowledge of songs and their own unique voice. We share these gifts with all of the women who join us. Sometimes they have no previous knowledge and are specifically joining the group to learn. When these newcomers finally get up the courage to sing and to lead, they often have the most beautiful voices. In our Tuesday night group at Niijkiwendidaa Anishnabekwewag Services Circle, we encourage women to bring their children — especially their daughters — to come listen and be a part of the group. Nothing warms your heart more than seeing the next generation happily drumming, shaking or dancing while the songs are being sung.
Just as I was taught, I now do the same for other women in the Peterborough community. I do this to pay it forward. I ask those who I teach to kindly do the same. This way we will keep a beautiful tradition alive and well in our communities.
I am very grateful to Creator for giving me this gift and I will continue to drum as long as I am able to be a drum carrier. Kchi miigwech.
Rebecca Loucks is a 47-year-old Ojibway woman from Curve Lake First Nation. She currently lives in Peterborough, Ontario. She’s been a hand drum singer since February 2002.