An adventurous young boy and his determined mother share a passion for Inuit drum dancing in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Evan’s Drum is a joyful visit to a family’s loving home, and an uplifting story of cultural pride. After generations of silence, the rhythm of the traditional Inuit drum has returned to Labrador, and seven-year-old Evan is part of the new generation that will keep its heartbeat strong.
Growing up in North West River, Labrador, I did not know what Inuit drum dancing looked like or sounded like. It wasn’t until I was a young adult in the early 2000s that the drums returned and I heard them for the first time. Later, I would learn that drum dancing was once common in Labrador communities, but due to centuries of colonization, the drums fell silent. One of the people leading the return of the drum was the late Enoch Obed, who is widely quoted as saying, “When the drum returns to Labrador, Inuit will have pride in their culture once again.” This is what drew me to the story of drum dancing, because it’s about more than just beautiful movements and music, or even a revitalized tradition: drum dancing is an embodiment of Inuit pride. When you see the drummers pick up their drums and start performing, you see this transformation in their body language and in their faces as they light up with joy.
It was during a drum-dancing performance for the Newfoundland and Labrador Residential Schools Healing and Commemoration Project in 2018 that I first met Evan. I had seen his mom, Amy, and the other drum dancers perform many times in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. To the delight of everyone at the ceremony, Evan, who was barely five years old at the time, insisted on trying to play the drum with his mom. As Evan played, imitating his mom, I saw the pride in not just Evan’s face, but in his mother’s and everyone else present.
After speaking with Amy about making the film, we followed their family for two years, as Evan grew, became a big brother and improved upon his craft. We really wanted to make this a special experience for Amy and Evan, and so we brought them to meet drum maker Jennie Williams and, with the support of Sol Semigak, to make their own drums. . At every step, I wanted this film to be a celebration of Inuit culture, pride and family.
After generations of silence, the rhythm of the Inuit drum has returned to Labrador. Evan’s Drum is a joyful, intimate window into the lives of an Inuit family who work alongside their community to keep this drumbeat alive.
At the heart of this story is seven-year-old Evan and his mother, Amy. In many ways, Evan is your typical adventurous and playful child; however, when it comes to the drum, his focus and passion for the instrument transcends his age. Among the first Labrador Inuit children in living memory to be raised with the traditional drum, Evan is part of a new generation of drum dancers. He was drawn to it from a very early age and is encouraged by his mother—an accomplished drummer and performer who took up the instrument in her teens.
Proud of her son’s genuine interest in the drum, Amy surrounds Evan with its heartbeat and guides him through the process of creating his own drum, aided by the expertise of Jennie Williams, one of a handful of Inuit women drum makers. The remarkable bond between mother and son, and their shared connection to the drum, link them to past and future generations of Labrador Inuit drummers.
Labrador Inuk filmmaker Ossie Michelin takes us to Happy Valley-Goose Bay and into Amy and Evan’s welcoming family home. Their love of drum dancing reflects the strong sense of pride that Labrador Inuit have in their traditional drum, which has become a symbol of cultural renewal and strength.
In Evan’s Drum, an adventurous young boy and his determined mother share a passion for Labrador Inuit drum dancing.
The Labrador Documentary Project (Lab Doc Project) supports Indigenous storytelling by working with first-time Labrador Inuit filmmakers to create and distribute Inuit stories from Inuit perspectives. The Lab Doc Project is led by Inuit through community collaboration, and focuses on topics selected by the filmmakers through a process of reflection and community engagement. This initiative aims to elevate Indigenous storytelling in Newfoundland and Labrador, create film opportunities for Inuit, and proactively diversify our industry. There are four films in this Project, with two launching in 2021, and the remaining films launching in 2022.
Written and Directed by
Directors of Photography
Duncan de Young
Original Music and Sound Design
Drum Making Teachers
Inuktitut Language Advisor
“Sons Of Labrador”
Written & Composed By
SILVER WOLF BAND
Courtesy of NUNATSIAVUT GOVERNMENT and SILVER WOLF BAND
SILVER WOLF BAND
Jamie Jackman (Guitar, Lead Vocals)
Matthew Barrett (Piano, Backing Vocals)
Brandon Pardy (Bass And Vocals, Inuktitut Section)
Justin Jackman (Percussion)
David Penashue (Guitar, Innu Vocals)
Keryn Andersen (Inuktitut Vocals)
Jean Paul Vialard
Digital Editing Technicians
Senior Production Coordinator
Leslie Anne Poyntz
Associate Producer Trainee
Associate Producer (In Development)
Stephen Agluvak Puskas
Executive Producer, Quebec & Atlantic Studio