Within the forest biome we were concerned with ecology – the relationship of living things to each other and to everything in their surroundings, or homes. We created drums from the trees and animal skins, we went on art walks to Nichols Lake, and learned how to protect and respect the forest with first nations drummers, local artists, scouts, and environmentalists. Using materials inspired and gathered from the forest we created drums, videos, paintings, prints, photos and music.
Patricia Ullman led us in a visualization and meditation on the subject of the forest. We then walked in the forest and created photos, paintings and prints with artist Melinda Spooner based upon our experience of the forest.
Children at Atlantic Memorial and Terence Bay elementary school participated in workshops in weaving, stained glass, ceramics and drumming. They were visited by Mi’kmaq documentary film-maker and drummer Cathy Martin to learn about the long and rich history of Mi’kmaq cultural, social, political and spiritual traditions. She shared in Mi’kmaq belief that all living things—plants, animals and humans—are interdependent on each other as she screened her documentary film of Alan Syliboy’s animation, The Little Boy Who Lived with Muini’skw (Bear Woman). The children learned about the drum through dance, singing and drumming with Cathy. Within Mi’kmaq culture the drum is, “the heartbeat of the Creator, the heartbeat of life and the people, we live the first nine months of our life in the womb of our mother listening to her heartbeat which sets the pattern of our existence”. (http://qalipu.ca/departments/culture-and-heritage/). Our drumming workshop was also held at Prospect Road Community Centre along with the film screening.
Together with architect Peter Gamble we built a drum from forest wood and animal skins. The children learned all aspects of drum making, from preparing a deerskin, to stretching the drum, to painting it and playing it.
We went on a forest walk to Nichols Lake led by Marlene Companion and Kimm Kent of the All Nations Drummers to participate in a smudge and drumming ceremony. Evan Kelly of the Scouts taught us about respecting our local lands. Beth McGee from the Five Bridges Wilderness Heritage Trust spoke about how to protect and access public lands in our area.
We learned to create short video sketches with documentary filmmaker Ariella Pahlke and created a mural painting based on the forest.
Ariella Pahlke & Melinda Spooner