Casey House was recently honoured with the gift of a sacred drum for clients, staff, peers, volunteers and families to use for ceremonies and spiritual practices.
On April 30, 2022, The Toronto Central Regional Indigenous Cancer Program (TCR-ICP) gifted a ceremonial hand drum to Casey House, making it the seventh local hospital to receive this physical representation of Mother Earth’s heartbeat. This special rhythm facilitates healing and realignment of the four realms of human existence (mental, spiritual, emotional and physical) as the Creator revolves around the rhythm.
This significant and symbolic gift recognizes Casey House’s ongoing work to build relationships and improve the holistic care and experience of Indigenous staff, clients, and community members. The TCR-ICP works to build capacity amongst local hospitals to provide Indigenous medicine in conjunction with traditional western healing practices.
This special occasion brought together members of both organizations and special guests to participate and witness the offering. The ceremony began with an opening prayer smudge from traditional knowledge keeper Elder Linda Barkman, followed by a welcoming song by drummer and singer Sara Luey, and a land acknowledgment recognizing the lasting impacts of colonialism for Indigenous peoples from Jennifer Dewling, chair of Casey House’s board of directors. With the guidance of Casey House client Rod Michano, tobacco ties were offered to the TCR-ICP staff in reciprocity for the gift of the drum and honouring our relationship.
Next, there was an offering to the drum. Indigenous patient navigator Leonard Benoit blessed the drum as he explained that the top of the drum is the sky, the bottom is the earth, and the circle presents balance, equality, wholeness, and connection. Leonard also shared his journey with the drum, which he had brought to a river under the most recent full moon to bless it near water.
Sonya Robins, Casey House inpatient clinical lead, offered a tobacco tie to Leonard and accepted the drum on behalf of the hospital. The drum was awakened in all four cardinal directions: east, south, west, and north. Sonya accepted the gift as part of Casey House’s commitment to build relationships and provide culturally safe care for Indigenous patients.
The drum was paired with its first singer Rod Michano, who sang a Turtle song for those assembled.
Finally, as Sara drummed a heartbeat, guests tied orange ribbons to the courtyard trees in honour of the recently discovered and unmarked gravesites on the properties of former Residential schools. After some time, the ribbons will be removed and put to another purpose so they can be brought back to the earth.
Sonya, keeper of the drum, is learning how to take care of this healing and ceremonial tool, as Casey House looks forward to offering the drum for clients and families to use in their individual journeys of health and wellness.
Casey House is committed to supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada final report’s ‘calls to action’, including incorporating Indigenous healing practices into service delivery and organizational practices.
Learn more about the Toronto Central Regional Indigenous Cancer Program drum honouring cermonies here.