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

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

Students from SD62 stepped up to help members in the community with the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive. This year’s organizers had to adapt during the campaign as COIVD-19 public health orders changed. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore students step up to make sure community members don’t go without

Students of SD62 are this year’s recipient of the Youth Volunteer Award

Millstream Village is welcoming a new Marshalls location March 9. (Photo courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
New Marshalls store in Langford brings boost to women in need

Retailer will hold opening ceremony in Millstream Village March 9

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

Each recipient of a 2021 Local Hero Award will receive a hand-carved paddle created by Haida artist John Bellis.
Meet the man behind the awards

Haida artist John Bellis hand-carved this year’s Local Hero awards

Abstract Developments is donating $75,000 to support community programming at The Cridge Centre for the Family. (Courtesy of The Cridge Centre)
Victoria developer builds support for community programs

Abstract Developments donates $75,000 to The Cridge Centre for the Family

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read