VICTORIA -- Eddy’s handmade drum was once part of a symphony of sounds recognizing health-care and frontline workers. Tonight, more than a year after the pandemic began, he’ll be performing solo.

“I want the whole community to stand beside each other,” Eddy says. “And hold each other up with gratitude and respect.”

While he stands in his driveway waiting for his seven o’clock start, Eddy recalls anticipating his first day of school.

“I thought it was going to be a new adventure,” he says. “I was excited.”

Eddy was so excited when he arrived, he couldn’t help but start drumming one of the celebratory songs his grandparents had taught him. He was just four and a half years old.

“I got punched in the back of the head my very first day just for drumming and singing,” Eddy says.

The abuse by the adults at the residential school only escalated from there and his young cries joined a chorus of pain.

“When I talk about hearing that crying and screaming in my head that won’t go away, that’s what I’m talking about.”

Eddy says he tried to commit suicide when he was seven years old.

“I woke up in a hospital here in Victoria,” he says. “It was the only way I could escape from residential school.”

Later Eddy discovered that drinking could dull the screams in his head, but it also perpetuated more violence his community.

“I was hurting people and I had to stop that,” he says. “I quit drinking 25 years ago and the transformation that happened astounded me.”

Instead of retreating inwards to protect his own pain, Eddy began expanding outwards to help heal others like him.

“That trauma that happens to an individual is going to spread out and continue to grow,” he explains. “It will create something negative if we don’t address it with something positive.”

So Eddy started organizing Victoria Orange Shirt Day with his friend Kristin to honour residential school survivors and their families and provide a loving legacy for his children and grandchildren.

“I want to be able to give them something kind and gentle,” he says.

As Eddy starts drumming in his driveway for the 387th day in a row and counting, he hopes to honour those working on the front lines, but also help heal all of us experiencing the collective trauma of enduring the pandemic.

“I hope that by continuing my drumming at seven o’clock that I allow people to embrace the community healing together,” Eddy says. “And when COVID-19 eventually leaves us, we have the ability to care for each other in gentle ways.”