In 2011, largely due to the demonstrated support from the Eka Cooperative, the Montagnard refugee community‘s creation of the Highland Gong Society was shared for the first time in Canada. As a non-profit community service cooperative which exists to bring together communities in hopes of preserving authentic cultural continuity, Eka continues to support what is considered sacred gong music and dances; recognized by UNESCO as part of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage.
Many of the Vancouver elders involved with the Highland Gong Society are highly skilled musicians. The adult ensemble, a resounding success with 17 active members, fuse together rhythms, melodies, and dances from four distinct cultures: Jarai, Ede, Bunong, and Bahnar. The Highland Gongs Youth Ensemble exists to build on the Adult Ensemble’s initial success, providing an inter-generational space for Montagnard elders to transmit this cultural art to younger generations. This program provides a special opportunity for providing pathways to success for high-need inner city indigenous refugee youth, while aiding the preservation of a treasured indigenous art and languages on the verge of extinction.
With the goal of cultural preservation remaining at the core of the program, the Eka Cooperative Highland Gong Society will be awarded $6,500 through the MusiCounts TD Community Music Grant. The Cooperative will utilize these funds to purchase culturally relevant instruments such as lutes, fiddles, drums, flutes, digital pianos, and guitars to help maintain the ability to transmit cultural history to inner city indigenous refugee youth in Vancouver.
Congratulations to the Eka Cooperative Highland Gong Society