Sarah Rhude, left, a cultural facilitator in the Greater Victoria School District’s Aboriginal Nations Education Division, receives a Distinguished Service award from B.C. Music Educators Association interim president Cindy Romphf, during the association’s AGM in Richmond last weekend. Photo contributed

Victoria school district Aboriginal cultural facilitator honoured with music award

Sarah Rhude earns Distinguished Service award for teaching First Nations musical traditions

A new era in musical education is dawning in the Greater Victoria School District, led by Sarah Rhude.

For the past two years, the art and cultural facilitator in SD61’s Aboriginal Nations Education Division has helped music teachers in the district initiate traditional drumming programs, using seven songs created by artists from the three Vancouver Island nations (Coast Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwakwaka’wakw).

She has also facilitated drum- and rattle-making workshops, including a middle school music exploratory class and a high school band class, allowing them to learn more about First Nations culture and knowledge.

Her efforts to introduce First Nations culture and music to a wider cross-section of students led the B.C. Music Educators Association to honour her last weekend in Richmond with a Distinguished Service award.

“I’ve got to be honest, I’m a little bit uncomfortable with it,” Rhude said of receiving the award. “What I feel like is, it’s really the ancestors who came before me who kept these songs alive, and the educators who have worked hard to get it to a place where we can share [the songs] like this.”

She credited music teachers Jenn Treble and Jennifer Hill for their efforts to put the aboriginal music element into the curriculum, and the district’s Aboriginal Nations Education Division staff for their support.

The response to the drum-making and drum-playing classes from students has “only been positive,” said Rhude, who is Mi’kmaq and calls herself a “visitor” to these lands for the past 18 years. “Drumming is innate, everybody enjoys doing it.”

Using drumming circles to teach the traditional songs, she has asked students and others afterward how they felt. “They tell me, they felt calm, connected. It’s a super-accessible way of connecting [with students].”

Even students who are shy or feel reluctant to sing have been able to stand up and drum in front of their school, she says.

The district has roughly 150 drums available for use by classes at all three levels of school, plus another 100 or so have been made by students.

“With the new curriculum, it’s been a sensitive topic as to how music teachers present the information musically and culturally,” said Cindy Romphf, B.C. Music Educators Association interim president. “Sarah has put in so many hours … trying to integrate the local Aboriginal culture into our music program in a way that is appropriate and captures their attention. She has worked tirelessly to make this happen.”

The Distinguished Service award is given to any educator who shows dedication and has gone above and beyond to promote music education.

editor@vicnews.com

MusicSchools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

When crisis hits: How West Shore RCMP have dealt with the pandemic

More front-line officers on road in mobile offices

Sidney staff recommends additional outdoor seating for restaurants and cafes

Report before council also leaves open possibility of closing a portion of Beacon Avenue

French fries to juicy tomatoes, rock art brings joy to walkers in Victoria

James Bay yard filled with painted rocks delights all ages

‘Depression-era’ unemployment figures could hit Greater Victoria

South Island Prosperity Project launches new dashboard to measure effects of COVID-19

Langford bartender hosts singalong livestream for seniors

Live Senior Singalong takes place daily at 1 p.m. on Facebook

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read