The Portage Friendship Centre held an event for making drums on Friday, January 19th. Kids from the Portage la Prairie area were able to attend and make their own drums. Jeanna Emms, the employment and training consultant at the centre, describes the process of making drums for the 10-inch drums with the children.
"They (the hides) need to soak for at least 24 hours, I usually soak them for 48 and that makes them nice and pliable for the kids, and gives them time because they start to dry as soon as we take them out of the water; so if they're really hydrated, it gives those kids a little bit of extra time to work the lacing through. Then, once we start the lacing, it's a solid hour for the 10-inch drums that we did. As the drums get bigger, it gets a little more complicated, just in the way of trying to keep everything straight and even."
Emms says this is only one of the ways they've been trying to share their culture with the local youth, adding they run most of their programs with a focus on their indigenous heritage.
"We've been working on a lot of things with the kids from powwow dancing to cultural crafts, cultural games, including a culture camp that we do with our children every summer. We do it twice in the summer, we take our kids out into the wilderness. For a lot of them, it's the first time they've slept on the ground or set a tent up." Emms shared a story of one child who told her, "Jeanna, I've never cooked a hotdog over the fire before!"
Emms states the goal of the centre is to allow kids to get connected with their culture, and that she is excited to be able to provide these opportunities to the children.
To get involved with the Portage Friendship Centre and its programming, you can call them at (204) 239-6333.