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Prince George drummer thrilled to meet Dr. Bonnie Henry

Henry came to Prince George to receive her honorary doctorate from UNBC and made a brief stop at the Civic Centre where the Prince George vaccination clinic is set up.

Wet’suwet’en First Nation drummer Wesley Mitchell met Dr. Bonnie Henry Tuesday afternoon at the Prince George Civic Centre and he’s still floating on air.

Henry came to Prince George to receive her honorary doctorate from UNBC and made a brief stop at the Civic Centre where the Prince George vaccination clinic is set up.

Mitchell serendipitously was at the centre to get his second vaccine and heard the whispers that Dr. Henry was in the building.

Being a dedicated drummer who is part of the UHNBC Prince George Traditional Drummers group that started honouring healthcare workers at the hospital 17 months ago - 45 days straight and then every Monday evening thereafter - his first thought was to honour Dr. Henry by drumming.

It’s unusual that Mitchell didn’t have his drum with him but he knew Shirley Babcock had one at the Two Rivers Gallery gift shop and when he Facetimed her to ask if he could borrow it, it all quickly came together.

Mitchell and another drummer, Katherina Morris, who was getting her vaccine at the clinic too, started drumming outside the Civic Centre and word got to Mitchell that Henry could hear the drumming.

When Henry was done inside she came outside to share a few minutes with Mitchell and Morris.

Mitchell offered to sing one of three songs for her, the Warrior Woman Song, the Beaver Hunting Song or the Grandmother’s Song by Leo McGilvery of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Alberta - Nimama - and of course, Dr. Henry chose Mitchell’s favourite song Nimama. 

“It was pretty surreal and when I look back at it all it really makes a lot of sense and I believe in the Creator and how all this transpired in meeting Dr. Bonnie Henry and drumming for her was meant to be,” Mitchell said about the encounter.

“When I’m drumming I like to form a circle during any ceremony,” Mitchell said “So I asked to form a circle and then I spoke with Dr. Henry and introduced myself and I told her it would be an honour to sing a song. She’s just a beautiful soul and spirit and you can just feel her calmness.”

Dr. Henry had her signature saying “be kind, be calm and be safe” written on her mask.

“You could tell someone had made it for her,” Mitchell said. “I’ve seen Dr. Bonnie Henry get emotional when speaking in the past about the opioid crisis so I told her what I had been doing lately. I have been going to Two Doors Down, The Fire Pit, and I go and drum down on Third Avenue numerous times in the past month or two to raise awareness for the opioid crisis and the people who are homeless. I thanked her for her heart and for what she does to be able to speak out on that issue during the pandemic because people are dying left, right and centre and she got a little emotional when I mentioned that and I told her that I have been in recovery for four years and miracles can happen. I just thanked her. I am just overwhelmed with happiness and joy and love.”

The UHNBC Prince George Traditional Drummers will continue to honour the healthcare workers every Monday at 6 p.m. and everyone is welcome to join, Mitchell said.

“We want the healthcare workers and the patients to hear the drumming and experience the healing that it has brought to me and the healing that it brought to Dr. Henry yesterday. I know she’s going through a lot, she’s being criticized and I don’t like that  - we need to be positive. This is a woman who has gone 17 months through a pandemic and she’s stayed strong. To be able to honour her on Lheidli T’enneh Territory as a Wet’suwet’en man and Indigenous leader was amazing.”

At Mitchell’s request, this article will end with ‘all my relations.'