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Sunnybrook receives and honours the gift of a ceremonial drum

September 14, 2021

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Thanks to a gift from the Toronto Central Regional Indigenous Cancer Program, Sunnybrook now has a ceremonial drum that First Nations, Métis and Inuit staff, patients and their families as well as hospital partners can use during their health-care journey.

The drum was gifted and honoured during a small ceremony held outside recently. Members of the Indigenous Cancer Program presented the drum and awakened it with members of Team Sunnybrook. Knowledge Keeper Westwind Evening provided the opening prayer and remarks, and Jenny Blackbird performed three traditional songs.

“The drum is the universal heartbeat of Mother Earth,” said Leonard Benoit, Indigenous Patient Navigator. “It is a form of communication, and this gift of a ceremonial drum is an acknowledgment of the relationship between the Indigenous Cancer Program and Sunnybrook.”

Claire Dion Fletcher, Indigenous (Lenape-Potawatomi) Registered Midwife from Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto (SGMT) and Hospitalist in the Dan Women and Babies Program, accepted the drum on behalf of Sunnybrook in recognition of the legacy of the SGMT at Sunnybrook and their role in leading care for Indigenous families and sharing knowledge with Sunnybrook staff.

Dr. Andy Smith, Sunnybrook President and CEO, recognized the leadership of the Indigenous Cancer Program, Seventh Generation Midwives and the Dan Women & Babies Program, the Odette Cancer Centre as well as the Indigenous Community Advisory Committee and President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce in their daily efforts and longstanding commitment to making Sunnybrook a more welcoming and inclusive place.

“As we recognize and deeply appreciate the people who were here before us, we must also be clearly and overtly connected about our collective commitment to make the promise and challenge of Truth and Reconciliation and anti-racism real in our communities, and right here at Sunnybrook,” he said.