Beatrice’s Drum

Beatrice Twance-Hynes - Leader (West, Black):

I got my drum in autumn 1999.  I was at a workshop at Confederation College. A couple of elders were there from Pays Plat, Ontario, selling drums. I picked one up and tried it out.  I wanted that drum. I gave them $20 to hold it for me. When I got home I told my husband Gerry about the drum, and asked him to buy it for me. We picked up my drum on our way back from Pic River. I named her “Spirit”.

When I first got my drum, I was shy at first. I was even shy singing at home to my husband. Since then “Spirit” has taken me on a beautiful journey.

“Spirit” was awoken in the spring of 2000 in a sweat lodge ceremony.  Ed O’Nabigon (elder, now in the spirit world) asked me to join him and the other women present in singing the Bear Song. That was actually the only song I knew at the time. Now I know a lot of songs, and also sing sometimes in front of hundreds of people. 

The drum is my instrument to sing my songs and the songs that I’ve learned from others.  I am very grateful to the Creator for the gift of the drum and the gift of my voice.  One of my dreams has been fulfilled – to create a CD with the Medicine Wheel Spirit Singers.  I would also like to record a CD of my own songs and melodies someday. I love singing.  It makes my “Spirit” happy.

I’ve written a few songs and gave melodies to prayers that have touched me.  I worte my first song called “Indian Chief’s Daughter” when I was in Grade 10. That was a while back.  It’s a song that describes how I felt at the time. I had thought that we had lost our culture and the way of life of our ancestors.  I also wrote it in honour of my Dad, Charles Twance. He wasn’t a chief, but he was my Greatest Teacher. He taught me about love, to be a good person and to do my best.

When I first got “Spirit” I didn’t use her right away, but I did mention to Peggy Adams, that we should get some women together to learn some songs. I remembered some women getting together awhile back on Mount McKay. I joined them once, but I didn’t have a drum at the time.  I remembered Alice Sabourin coordinating the circle, and Ina Carr (she is now in the spirit world) handing out tobacco.  When Ina gave me tobacco, she told me to take it in my left hand since that was the hand closest to our hearts.

Peggy called me in October 2000. She said that a few women had gotten together to drum at Jennifer Perreault’s home.  I joined them in November. There were:  Freda McDonald, Peggy Adams, Jennifer Perrault, Ina Carr, and myself.  I taught them the Bear Song.  There were other women who joined us after that.  I later came up with the group’s name, Strong Woman.  Freda, our elder, translated the name, which is Mush-kow-zee E-kwe-wak.