NORTH BAY -- Drummers and members of the organizing committee were playing traditional upbeat African music at the North Bay Mall, while inviting the public to join them in hopes of lifting spirits during these troubled times.

"The drum is the ancestor of the radio," explained International Percussionist Justine Gogoua.

"We are all gathering during these difficult times during COVID-19."

Gogoua, her friends, and committee members set-up a healing circle in an empty store inside the mall complete with what are called djembe drums. The drums originate from West Africa and are now quite popular.

While shoppers stopped and took in the sights and sounds, Gogoua sang while encouraging people to join.

"Culture Days, today, is about bringing a little bit of sunshine in our hearts," she said.

Gogoua says in many cultures, typically in Africa, music is often used to heal the soul and bring people together during times of crisis. Gogoua is originally from the Ivory Coast.

"Sometimes, we forget how much music is part of our lives and when you can't enjoy it and you can't go to concerts, it's a big loss," said Nipissing Culture Days Co-Chair Chantal Phillips.

Last year marked the first-ever Culture Days festival in the District of Nipissing: complete with music, an international food fest, mask parade, and kite dancing. It paved the way for how the events would unfold this year.

"It's who we are. North Bay has really brought a lot of people from a lot of different places to live here," said Phillips.

Preparations are underway for a virtual concert when Culture Days wraps up next weekend.

"On Oct. 24th, that will be broadcast and we'll have seven different performers from new Canadians from Ecuador to local performers," said Phillips excitedly.

But for now, organizers want to soak in all of the music and bring struggling people together through song and dance.