Spotlight on Indigenous Education: Featuring the Drum-making Workshop

Graduate students, faculty and staff from the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Education  attended a recent Coast Salish drum making workshop held in the First Peoples House.  The workshop was hosted by Nick Claxton and Dr. Carmen Rodriguez de France with the support of the Faculty of Education’s  Community + Scholarship Fund.

Participants had the opportunity to experience teaching and learning in an Indigenous context.  It was a hands-on experiential learning activity exposing them to local knowledge as shared by elders, Tousilum Ron George, drum maker and Deb George, Cultural Protocol Liaison for the Office of Indigenous Affairs (INAF).


Nick Claxton, from the Tsawout Band & WSÁNEĆ Nation, is the Academic Adviser/Coordinator of Indigenous Education and a doctoral student in Indigenous Education.

Nick began the event with a Coast Salish welcome, and explained the traditional practice of entering the longhouse with a good heart and open mind.


What follows are images captured at the event.  Thanks to all for letting me share these images with our community.


Materials were gathered and the deer hide prepared by soaking in water for a day.


Holes were punched around the outside of the hide, and sinew woven in a specific pattern to secure the sides.  This was not as easy as it looks, as the lines cannot cross over themselves, but need to follow a set pattern.  As a consequence, people learned by making mistakes, undoing and redoing until they got it right.


Cowichan elder, Tousilum Ron George assisted Dr. Carmen Rodrieguez de France and company with their drum.

Drum 1

Ron describes drum making and some of the special qualities of this particular style of drum that he makes and teaches about in the following Time Travel BC video:

Nick was on hand to help Pia Russell, Education Librarian, with the final preparations.


Dr. Michele Tanaka appreciated spending time learning cultural teachings from Deb and Ron, and also enjoyed getting to know other people from the faculty a bit better – including some amazing graduate students!


A kindergartener enjoyed the atmosphere in the Ceremonial Hall and checked out the carvings, and tried his hand at the drums. It was nice to see him there!


Christine Webster, Indigenous Education Administrative Assistant, and Dr. Honore France-Rodriguez, Counselling Psychology, also participated:


Featuring Sarah’s Drum:

Sarah Bonsor Kurki, doctoral student and sessional instructor, recorded her experience in a series of images, some of which she has shared here:







Bruno de Oliveira Jayme, was another doctoral student in attendance.  His smile represents the overall mood of the event:



Thanks to Nick Claxton and Dr. Carmen Rodriguez de France for hosting this event and for their assistance with this blog post.  Special thanks to elders, Ron and Deb George for sharing their time and knowledge with our faculty, staff and students.

Library Resources

Check out the Curriculum Library or Main Library  for more information about Coast Salish people and culture.

Hope to see you in the Curriculum Library,

Carol N.



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