In November of 2016 I was performing at an Exemplary Service Awards ceremony, one of the several pacific region events I perform at throughout the year with the Guard of Honour from Mountain Institution. During that event I was asked if I was interested in forming and running a pipe band in the region, and of course I said yes!
I’ve been part of the National CSC Community Pipes and Drums for a number of years and have performed at hundreds of ceremonial events in the pacific region, Ottawa, and Nova Scotia. Taking this to heart, and the fact that NHQ and the region was supportive, I quickly jumped into action. On January 14, 2017, the pacific region’s community pipes & drums was born.
I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to pull this off without some help from my colleagues, as well as pipers and drummers from the community, so the phone calls and emails began. Doug Holloway, a CSC employee and Grade 1 drummer was a logical choice. With Doug’s help we spread the news through the grapevine.
In just three weeks we had eight people join, four from CSC and four from the community. To date we have 13 band members which consist of seven CSC employees and six community members, and more have indicated an interest in joining us in the near future. Current membership consists of eight pipers and five drummers. We already have a great practice regime and a good solid sound. We boast one grade one piper, two grade two pipers, two grade one snare drummers, a grade two snare drummer, and one grade two tenor drummer. It’s important to mention that an attendance policy regarding CSC employees is part of the national guidelines; however, due to rotating and mandatory shift work schedules, we understand absences. That said, members are expected to attend as many practices and events as possible as continual absences can cause many problems.
We have chosen three band members at random to highlight in this narrative as a way of introducing the diversity of our new band. It is our honour to introduce the following members:
Scott Fergusson is an experienced piper and a community member from Abbotsford, BC. He just received his reliability status and is being kitted as a full member. It’s good to mention that he has also attended every practice since the beginning. Scott is also a piper with the Harrison Highlanders out of Harrison Hot Springs, BC.
Doug Brew is a correctional manager at Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village. He is an experienced piper who also has experience playing the bass drum. Doug takes his pipes to work on graveyard shift and plays to the bears and night owls.
Cassey Fergusson is 19 and has passed her reliability screening and is now a kitted member. She is a grade 2 snare drummer and a former member of the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band, which is part of the world famous Simon Fraser University Pipe Band. She, like her dad, is a member of the Harrison Highlanders.
The purpose of our new pipe band is threefold, with the most important reason being to compliment the pacific region Guard of Honour, which will bring our region into alignment with NHQ guidelines regarding a rich heritage in ceremonial representation and to honour a mandate of establishing a great community presence in the region. The second reason is to bring the rich Highland Bagpipe music experience to our local community and to offer beginner pipers and drummers an outlet for excellent musical training. The final reason is to offer experienced pipers and drummers relocating to or from the pacific region an opportunity to play specifically for and to represent CSC.
It is our greatest hope that CSC members, friends and family will read this article and become aware of the great representational work we are doing here in the pacific region. If you are interested in joining us, you will need to go through a Reliability Status Check with the Government of Canada. This is done right at the Matsqui Complex (CSC employees will already have this). The age requirement is 19 years of age as band members will be at federal penitentiary sites.
If you are new to the area, an employee of CSC in the area, or a community member, come check us out! We are looking for membership throughout the grade system so if you’re a beginner, come on down. If you’re a grade one player and tired of making that commute to Burnaby Mountain, come on down. Pipe band members regularly meet at 7pm in the GO building on Thursday evenings directly across the entrance to Matsqui Institution in Abbotsford, BC. Drumming and beginner practice chanter lessons will take place at 6:30 pm 30 minutes prior to the start of every practice night. Everyone is welcome to stop by and we are really looking forward to seeing you there.