National Reconciliation Week

Today, we came to the end of National Reconciliation Week, during which time we have spent each day focused on Indigenous history and culture, and the successful 1967 Referendum.

Together, we read the book “The Lost Girl” by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Leanne Tobin, and spoke about the different symbols within the book. We also spoke about what an Acknowledgement of Country means to us.

We spoke a lot about Whadjuk Nyungar Country, and how we can respect Aboriginal culture, histories, language, people and animals including the Australian natives we see around our school, like kookaburras and blue tongue lizards.

We participated in a Collaborative Circle art piece encapsulating this year’s National Reconciliation Week theme, “In This Together”. Students each drew their own circles and added to one another’s. It was fantastic to see them fully engaged in the painting experience and being and working together so well. We can’t wait to find somewhere appropriate to display their work!

We watched a video about Bush Tucker gardens and reflected on our own gardens that Tucker Bush Plants installed with us last year. Did you know that for the past 60,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been growing and harvesting native plants for healing, making tools and cooking? (Behind The News) In that spirit – and because we are lucky enough to have a commercial kitchen onsite – we made damper. We took turns mixing together our ingredients and adding the fresh flavours of our bush tucker cuttings (native thyme, also known as cut-leaf mint bush, and old man saltbush) before rolling our dough into balls. The aromas of the damper and herbs quickly filled our kitchen and art room, making us all feel hungry! It was a fantastic afternoon’s activity.

We focused a lot on Aboriginal artists from all over Australia. Our Principal, Melissa Kennedy, read us a story called “Dhatam’ ga Ngändi marrtjina nuwayakku” in Yolngu Matha, which is a linguistic family that includes the languages of the Yolngu, who are the Indigenous people of northeast Arnhem Land in northern Australia. “Dhatam’ ga Ngändi marrtjina nuwayakku” describes the process of collecting and painting bark or nuwayak. Some of our teachers brought in paintings from Docker River in Pitjantjajara Country, Yirrkala in Yolngu Country and Warburton in Ngatatjara Country. We discussed how all of the paintings were different, with unique, distinctive patterns and stories accompanying them.

We set up multiple work stations at which our students could explore different materials and patterns including natural resources from our wild space. Some students chose to recreate paintings around the room, whereas others chose to make their own paintbrushes using leaves and sticks. After exploring all of the different patterns and materials on offer, we encouraged everyone to create an image that told a story or shared something special to them.

We also watched a short video called “Who We Are: Country/Place”. One of the standout phrases that we reflected on afterwards was, “We might move away from our Country, but the flame is always burning to go back and reconnect.” That prompt was an impetus for us to talk about what makes Kerry Street unique, and feel like home. Students spoke about our school’s location and proximity to the beach and our access to an abundance of natural resources within our wild space, which transitioned into a conversation about how we could all be caretakers of our environment. Together, we agreed that we will take care of all native flora and fauna, only build with fallen branches and bark, only take from our bush tucker garden as needed, and always be kind to one another. We ended National Reconciliation Week by placing handprints on a poster we intend on displaying in our wild space as a reminder that we are all caretakers of our Earth.

#NRW2020 #NationalReconciliationWeek #InThisTogether