This is the hand drum I received several years ago as a graduation gift from my teacher and mentor, Marjorie Noganosh.
I’m ashamed to say that I did not take care of it and the skin got dry and ripped, making the drum unusable.
Last year Marjorie passed away. She was an amazing and beautiful person. Among her many accomplishments, she was one of the first Aboriginal women in Canada to graduate from university. She was a social justice advocate, active in the 60’s in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the anti-war movement and social justice for Aboriginal people in Canada. Marjorie was also a teacher and hands on energy healer. She studied bodywork, including Reiki and Shiatsu and practiced Zen meditation. Later in her Life, she followed her calling to become a spiritual energy healer in the Aboriginal community. Marjorie’s quiet demeanour and powerful hands on healing earned her praise and recognition and she was a widely respected Ojibway elder and healer. Her contribution to the urban Aboriginal community in Toronto is profound.
Marjorie was also my friend and hero, and I miss her dearly. Her passing has left a deep void in my Life that I have not been able to fill since she left us. Her healing hands, gentle ways and subtle humour brought light into my Life at some of my darkest times. I can still hear her quiet voice when i would go to see her for body work, “so what’s wrong now?”, she would say, with a soft grin on her face.
Last month, I offered my friend some tobacco to repair the drum for me. If you don’t know, an offering of tobacco is custom in Aboriginal culture, when asking for guidance or help. The tobacco is used for prayer and later burned, the smoke carrying your intentions to the cosmos. This week I picked up the finished hand drum and it is proudly sitting on my desk as I type this.
I have always been shy about singing in public, and thought it just wasn’t one of my special talents. But I look at this drum and I feel that it wants to be used, it wants a song to go with it. It’s been waiting for me all these years.
This year, I am going to learn some songs to sing and use the hand drum. For Marjorie, and for myself.
I think if I played it, the sound would fill up my heart, and resonate throughout the whole world.