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

International Bat Week runs from Oct. 24 to 31. (Photo: Cory Olson)
Time to get batty for International Bat Week

International Bat Week runs from Oct. 24 to 31

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan Bui (left) and Kairry Nguyen at the end of the trial that found Tanessa Nikirk guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Nikirk is back in court for her sentencing hearing. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATED: Court hears letter from driver convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

HarbourCats players celebrate winning the North Division Championship Series in 2019. (Christian J. Stewart/File Photo)
Victoria HarbourCats locked out of team Facebook page

Management hires legal team to solve issue

Victoria police are looking for high-risk offender Douglas McPherson. (Courtesy of VicPD)
UPDATED: Victoria police arrest high-risk parolee with history of bank robbery

Citizen alerts cops after spotting parolee on Pandora Avenue

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Victoria police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

Most Read