'We had goosebumps': Indigenous drum group helps police calm man in crisis on Saskatoon bridge
SASKATOON -- An Indigenous drum group was in the midst of a performance at the Vimy Memorial on Saturday when they were called into action by Saskatoon police asking for help with someone sitting on the edge of the Broadway Bridge.
“Police came and said they have a man that’s trying to jump,” Jeff Longman said of the group Grey Buffalo .
“And the only thing that was keeping him happy was our music,” said Jared Bird, another member.
With their drums in hand, Bird and Longman walked to the edge of the riverbank and performed prayer songs for a 30-year-old man who was sitting on the edge of the bridge.
“That day it was just hard, a lot of things hit me at once,” the man told CTV News on Tuesday. “Those drummers were there and luckily they were there.”
CTV News is withholding the man's name out of respect for his privacy.
“I walked to the bridge and I was sitting there for a little bit. Cops responded and they were trying to talk me down and I could hear the drumming in the background,” he said.
That’s when police asked Grey Buffalo for help talking the man from the edge of the bridge, something the drummers didn’t hesitate to do.
The moment was captured in a Facebook video the group was streaming where someone can be heard off-camera asking for the group's help.
“So many emotions running through the body, we had goosebumps all the way up the arm and hair standing up,” Longman told CTV News.
Eventually, he backed away from the edge
“It calmed me down,” the man said. “Just the drumming and hearing them sing, it calmed me down and then (seeing) them standing there, I looked at them and thought about my family and said to myself ‘I can’t do this.’”
Longman said he believes the connection between their performance and the man was fate.
“I think that the Creator sent us there to help him, that’s the way I think about it,” he said.
Four days since the incident, the man said he’s doing much better, and is thankful to Grey Buffalo for helping him
“I don’t know what I would have done if they weren’t there to help me, the music really helped me a lot,” he said.
Saskatoon Police Service Insp. Tonya Gresty said the outcome of the incident was the result of officers thinking on their feet in a time of crisis and the "beautiful gesture" made by the drummers.
"We’re really thankful that Grey Buffalo drummers were able to assist police in de-escalating what was a very stressful situation.
"It’s incredible because that’s a big ask that’s putting people in a tough situation asking people to help out with a scenario that could have gone either way."
If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that are available.
Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645), Centre for Suicide Prevention (1-833-456-4566) or Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.
If you need immediate assistance call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.