Some Sooke residents heard a new sound the other night — and they liked it.
Three Metis locals were drumming in their backyard, inspired to learn new songs to respond to the grief stirred up by discovering 215 unmarked graves at a former residential school in Kamloops.
Korrey Laberoute is Metis but grew up in Alberta, disconnected from her heritage. It wasn’t until Laberoute reconnected with her dad and met his family that she learned she came from a family of residential school survivors.
The news of the Kamloops school has hit close for her because those graves nearly could have been her dad, his sisters, her grandparents. It could have been her.
“I realized the other day, as a survivor of a residential school survivor, I wonder if maybe my dad took off when we were young because he didn’t want what he went through for us,” she said.
“Honestly, I didn’t realize until three days ago how close me and my brother came to maybe being put in that same system.”
When the federal government was paying settlements to residential school survivors, Laberoute received a phone call asking if she’d ever been to one of the schools.
“She’s only 45, and they had to call her and ask her? So that means there are people even younger who went there,” said Laberoute’s daughter, Kara Lebold.
Lebold grew up knowing her Metis identity and finds a lot of pride in it. So it was important for Laberoute to raise kids who knew their identity and found strength in it. “I wanted them to be proud. And it was actually through that that I gained more pride in who I was.”
But it wasn’t until last week that Laberoute started learning to drum. The emotions that surfaced with the news of the unmarked graves were strong when she saw a post inviting people to trill, drum or howl at 7 p.m. on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples’ Day. As soon as she saw the word drum, she felt a pull.
So she asked her daughters, who learned to drum from Aboriginal resource workers in school, to teach her. It’s funny that she, as an elder has to ask her daughters for help, she said.
“It’s like I’m reclaiming a culture that was torn from me. I never got to get into it because of shame, fear, prejudice. And now I feel so free when I drum.”
Their backyard drumming practices raised curiosity from the neighbours and overwhelmingly positive responses.
So much that the mother and daughters are planning a song and drum gathering at Ed Macgregor Park in Sooke at 7 p.m. on June 21. They’re learning two songs and invite anyone to join in with their voices, drums and dancing.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.