Allison Bernard Memorial High School was host to a ‘Music and Drama Day’ event on the theme of Reconciliation that turned out to be as memorable as it was historic. Over 200 band students from 5 different local area high schools gathered to learn, share, and build friendships together. The event began in the morning with various workshops that students could attend on music, drama, and culture, followed by a catered lunch, and concluded in the afternoon with a special performance by the orchestra ensemble.
After welcoming remarks from Chief Leroy Denny, and an empowering speech by esteemed Elder Albert Marshall, the afternoon performances got underway.
The students gathered to play a piece composed by Eskasoni’s own Richard “Gutch” Poulette and the late Alex “Pi’kun” Poulette. For the performance students were accompanied by members of the National Arts Centre’s orchestra and of Symphony Nova Scotia, and led by distinguished conductor Alexander Shelley of the National Arts Centre. Together they played a very moving rendition of “Apiksiktuaqn (Forgiveness)”, as arranged by Ian Cusson of the NAC.
Richard “Gutch” Poulette was on site to speak about his music and the theme of reconciliation, and not one to be left out of the musical fun, he performed a Kojua’ that had the whole crowd on their feet. Select members of the NAC’s orchestra performed compositions both solo and as part of a trio for the audience’s enjoyment. Eskasoni artist Ursula Johnson led ABMHS students in a dramatic storytelling about Mi’kmaq culture and history, a performance that was organized earlier in the day’s morning workshops.
The day also featured an amazing performance of “My Unama’ki” by Emma Stevens, accompanied by her fellow ABMHS music students, music teacher Carter Chiasson, Darren Stevens, and local fiddler Colin Grant. “My Unama’ki” is part of ABMHS’ ongoing relationship with the National Arts Centre as one of our annual song projects which began in 2016 with “Gentle Warrior” from the Rita Joe song project.
Thank you to everyone who was involved in this memorable day, and a very special thank you to our very own Carter Chiasson for his work in organizing this lovely event.