Métis elder, 83, working to pass on traditional drum-making knowledge to younger generations

November 29, 2021
Métis elder, 83, working to pass on traditional drum-making knowledge to younger generations

After more than a decade of passing on his knowledge, a Métis elder gave what he hopes will be his last drum-making workshop to a group of eager learners in Winnipeg on Saturday.

Paul Desrosiers taught about 10 people how to work rawhide, cut holes and weave the strings throughout to make a hand drum on Saturday, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Over the course of the day-long workshop, hosted by Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba, he walked from table to table, passing on his knowledge.

The 83-year-old from St. Malo, Man., has been doing workshops like this for almost 15 years but is now hoping someone else takes up the task.

“I’d like to pass on my knowledge — that’s the name of the game of being an elder, so that’s why I’m showing these people,” he said.

Desrosiers helped about 10 people learn how to make hand drums using raw deer hide on Saturday. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

Jocelyne Pambrun, a participant at Saturday’s workshop, wants to do the same.

“As a grandmother, I realized that my children and my grandchildren never got a chance to understand who they are as Métis,” she said.

“It was really important for me to understand what that meant,” she said, adding she had the opportunity to work with her elders “that are knowledge keepers, that understand these ways.”

Participants of all different ages took part in the drum-making workshop, hosted by Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

Learning to make and play a hand drum is just one facet of what she hopes to pass on to the younger generations.

She wants to help them “to understand what was important to us and what made us who we are with our drumming, our fiddling, our dancing, but also helping each other with our relations in this world,” she said.

“That’s what I’m passing on to the little ones, and to my daughter and my son.”

Desrosiers wants to see younger generations pass on the knowledge he’s shared with them. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

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