National Reconciliation Week 2021

The 2021 theme for National Reconciliation Week is ‘More Than a Word’. This year, for National Reconciliation Week, we celebrated each day with a variety of learning experiences. We focused on moving from ‘being safe’ to ‘being brave’ and taking action within our own community. Below is a recap of each day of National Reconciliation Week, with a reflection on what our classes did to celebrate.

Wednesday 26th May – National Sorry Day

For National Sorry Day, our teachers and students explored the meaning of Sorry Day in a variety of ways. 

The K/PP class discussed the meaning of sorry and spoke about times they have been sorry before. 

The Year 1/2 class explored the Stolen Generation and National Sorry Day. Whilst completing an art piece, students explained what they were painting. Some of their responses include, “The tree is a greeting, I have tear drops of sadness, the flower is grown from the seed made of a broken heart.” “I used sad colours, the red is angry because they took the children away.” “…the red is land being angry at the white people.” 

The Year 3/4 and 5/6 students explored the poem I am Sorry by Stephanie Mulrooney. 

In the afternoon we were honoured to host Greg Nannup, a well-known Nyungar man. Greg spoke with all students about the Aboriginal history of the land on which our school is built and shared a Nyungar story about Wardongs. 

Greg Nannup sharing with the whole school

Thursday the 27th of May

Thursday marked the first day of National Reconciliation Week. It is also the anniversary of The 1967 Referendum, where more than 90% of Australian’s voted ‘Yes’ to amend two discriminatory sections of our Constitution following decades of Indigenous and non-Indigenous activism. We recorded the students voices as they read our Acknowledgement of Country, and shared this onto our social media pages.

Friday the 28th May

Our #MoreThanAWord journey continued, our middle and upper primary classes investigated Our Stolen Generations, as well as the #LearnOurTruth movement, discussing how we, as individuals, can take action. 

Some of our students’ actions to #LearnOurTruth included: 

  • Reading, watching and listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories. 
  • Sharing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander historical and cultural knowledge with families. 
  • Starting or being a part of hard conversations. 
  • Ensuring we only purchase authentic Aboriginal Art.

Monday the 31st May

To kick start the next week and continue on our #MoreThanAWord journey, we read the story Respect by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson. Before separating into our class groups we spoke about respect and the aspects of respect the book spoke about. 

The Year 1/2 class then learnt about the #LearnOurTruth movement and wrote individual pledges to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.

The Year 3/4 class explored the notion of respect and created an art response to the book. 

The Year 5/6 class looked further into the Stolen Generation survivors. Specifically into the story of Dr Robert Isaacs. Students then responded to the information learnt in a variety of ways – writing letters to Robert and his wife Teresa, and drawing and painting pictures to express feelings. 

Tuesday 1st of June

As a whole community, parents, staff, students and community members created a stunning art piece along the boundary of our wilderness area. The purpose of the art piece was to contribute to our wider community and passers-by. 

As the words began to take shape, we had many people stop to read the words on the fence and ask us questions about what ‘more than a word’ means. Our staff and students proudly explained the meaning behind the message and the connection to National Reconciliation Week. It was great to see the immediate interest from our community. 

Wednesday 2nd June

All students read the story Finding Our Heart by Thomas Mayor. This texts shares the Uluru Statement in child friendly language. This generated discussion around ‘heart’ and where ‘heart’ can be found. Students identified that ‘heart’ can be found in the voice of our first peoples, the truth of our history and could be shared with a treaty. 

The Year 1/2 students then took to our Wilderness Area to reflect through art, going on a Makuru inspired scavenger hunt, and creating a heart out of natural elements, whilst reflecting on the story. The students placed a large rock on the top of the heart to represent Uluru. 

The Year 3-6 students had conversations with about the importance of NRW. Some quotes from these discussions include: 

“We celebrate NRW to better understand Aboriginal culture and making sure special sites get protected. Also to understand what happened to Aboriginal people and how to fix it.” 

Year 4 Student

“I think Reconciliation Week is important because we need to learn our history of how humans used to live without the things we have now and how our world has changed”

Year 5 Student

Thursday 3rd June

On the final day of National Reconciliation Week and the Anniversary of Mabo Day, our years 3-6 students watched a video about ‘Mabo’s Legacy’ on Behind The News. The film explores Eddie Mabo’s greatest achievements, and gives a brief summary about Native Titles and what they mean for Australia’s First Peoples. Students then conducted biographical research about Eddie Mabo and came across some interesting facts about him.

In the afternoon, our Year 1/2 teacher, Jacey read Mad Magpie by Gregg Dreise, a descendant of the Kamilaroi and Euahlayi people. Before reading the story, Jacey translated the Kamilaroi words for the different birds into Nyungar words. The students noticed the Djiti Djiti’s and Koolbardi’s in our wilderness area singing loudly whilst Jacey was reading the story. 

As we reflect on NRW, we take a moment to remember the intergenerational injustices which has impacted the land, culture, language and history of our First People. At Kerry Street Community School, we have made a commitment to learn through true history of our country and embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, histories and cultures into our learning.