Cabot Square’s trees are now leafless and the cold is settling in. It is time to move indoors and so today we decided to try out the Atwater Metro station’s entry at Atwater and St. Catherine Street. When we arrived we discovered many of the park’s inhabitants keeping warm, including members of the Inuit community we have had the chance to meet since the summer when we started visiting Dare-Dare in its new location.
Emilie, today’s teacher, is of Anishnabe descent and a member of Odaya, a group of six first-nation women singers. At her invitation two other members came: Lisa, of Saulteaux descent and Moe, of Métis descent. Upon arriving, Lisa and Emilie talked with one of the leaders of the Inuit community who spoke at length of his life experiences. This was a bridge and opening to let those indoors know why we were there, what we hoped to do and an invitation for them to join us if they wished.
Today’s lesson was very poignant for us both. Our learning circle included many people who have now returned repeatedly to be with us while new participants were welcomed. Throughout our time in the metro, we left a space open for those who chose to watch from the edges, venturing in and then out as they wanted. The sound of the three drums could be felt down to one’s toes while individually each of their “voices” was akin to heartbeats. The connection to singing as being not just from the throat but involving one’s whole body was striking. And though the sounds around us were very present in their harshness, we were able to acknowledge them while singing at the same time.
Emilie led our voice warm-up with exercises that were new to us while others were related to what we have been doing since September.
Three songs were taught, “Moon Song”, a traditional healing song, a composition by Lisa called “Mother Earth” and a call/response song – as if two women were calling to each other from the top of two distant mountains! – by Moe. Through their skilled teaching, everyone joined in, concentrating on the weaving of drum and voice.
For the first time since our project started, individuals of the Inuit Cabot Square community also joined us. Mary invited a friend to throat sing with her – a very powerful and memorable experience. At the end of our singing, Putulik graciously thanked us and spoke to the desire and necessity for his community not to be embarrassed by who they are while offering to the circle a closing prayer. Asking us to take off our hats, close our eyes and hold hands, we did so listening to the sounds of the Inuit language.
As always, snacks were shared, this time in Dare-Dare’s trailer. Afterwards we were able to talk about different experiences of displacement. Today Devora introduced the notion of home and beauty with the group talking about it as a physical entity but also how it can be experienced within the body. Different reflections arose on the material, corporeal and spiritual understandings of what it can be. Significantly, memories of displacement and the past play central roles in our search and hoped for well-being in finding/making a home.