First Nations bring ‘good medicine’ to Amherst

Dave Mathieson
Published on June 6, 2012
Dance of the Spirit dancers move to the beat of traditional aboriginal drummers and singers yesterday at the Amherst Curling Club. The dancers are from the Tobique First Nation, Maliseet Tribe, in New Brunswick.
Dave Mathieson - Amherst Daily News

AMHERST – First Nations culture came to Amherst on Wednesday.

June is National Aboriginal History Month and it kicked off in Amherst with First Nations drummers and dancers putting on demonstrations in front of 130 elementary school students at the Amherst Curling Club.

“I’m glad a lot of people can see this because a lot of people are uneducated and influenced by stereotypes, and here they get to see the real deal,” said Kyle McDonald of Millbrook First Nation. “It feels good to educate people on what we do.”

The 22-year-old singer and drummer has been attending powwows since he was born and was singing and drumming during Wednesday’s event.

“I’ve been singing since I was 14,” said the 22-year old.

McDonald said every reservation on the East Coast has a powwow in the summer.

“Also, in my community we’re teaching youth how to drum. We want to pass on traditions,” added McDonald. “My sister teaches kids how to dance in Indian Brook First Nation and she teaches in our community as well.”

Pamela Nicholas is from the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick and works with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

“I hope that the young people intermingle with the other (First Nations) youth that are here,” said Nicholas.

“A lot of people think there’s not many aboriginal people left, that they’re all gone, but this lets them know that our culture is still very much alive,” added Nicholas. “It’s a very fun culture, filled with music and dance.

“We’re still very much a part of Atlantic Canada and, also, I think a lot of people here today will find their ancestry is tied in with ours as well.”

Samuel Walker is one of those students whose ancestry is tied to Canada’s First Nations.

“I’m part Mi’kmaq,” said the Grade 5 Spring Street Academy Student.

Walker enjoyed the singing and dancing best.

“It’s interesting,” said the 10-year old.

McDonald hopes the kids enjoyed the music.

“I hope they go home and tell their parents what they saw today and said it was a good feeling,” said McDonald. “Because it’s all good medicine here.”

AANDC organized the event.

“This is something we do every year,” said Patricia Ellis, communications officer with the AANDC in Amherst.

“People don’t get a whole lot of exposure to this in Amherst, unless they go to a powwow,” said Ellis “So we encourage people to learn and to go to powwows, if they have the chance, and introduce themselves to the aboriginal culture.

“There’s a lot of history out there and there’s a lot of positive steps the aboriginal community has been making for themselves and their communities.”

More pictures from the event can be seen on the slideshow at