During Week 6 and 7 of this term, we acknowledged three significant events for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The first was Sorry Day on Wednesday, 26 May. Sorry Day acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were forcibly removed from their families and were subjected to harsh living conditions and abusive treatment within institutions. They were encouraged to reject their culture and feel ashamed of their Indigenous heritage. We invited Warrang-Bridil in to do a smoking ceremony. Warrang-Bridil are an Aboriginal owned and operated cultural business in Perth. A smoking ceremony is an ancient Aboriginal custom that involves burning various native plants to produce smoke, which cleanses the property and has the ability to ward off bad spirits from the people and the land to make a pathway for a brighter future.
The next day saw the start of National Reconciliation Week, which ran from 27 May to 3 June. Reconciliation Week provides us with a chance to work towards the goal of building respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians, and to create a fair and equal society. During Reconciliation Week, we invited members of the Stolen Generations, Mrs Sheila Humphries, Mr Charlie Kickett, Mr Tony Hansen, Mrs Dorothy Bagshaw and Mrs Norma Smith to our College to share their stories about their experiences growing up in institutions without their family. Our guests relived the traumatic experiences they endured whilst being in these institutions and our students were able to experience the emotions and understanding of what they had gone through first hand.
Students also had the opportunity to participate in a weaving activity with our guest, Yolande Ward. They were taught the basic craft of weaving baskets which requires a great deal of concentration. Some students found the rhythm and were able to produce stunning baskets quickly, while others took a little longer. Basket weaving is an ancient craft pre-dating pottery and stone carving. These baskets were used in every day life and were essential for transporting and storing the basic necessities of life such as food, water and clothing.
Lastly, but definitely not least, we invited BINAR Basketball Association to our College to run a basketball clinic for our students. BINAR provides life opportunities and pathways for Aboriginal Youth through basketball. BINAR founder, Adam Desmond is also the Regional Coordinator of the Patty Mills Foundation, Indigenous Basketball Australia.
The last date we acknowledged was Mabo Day on Thursday, 3 June. Mabo Day commemorates the courageous efforts of Eddie Koiki Mabo of Murray Island - Mer. The Mabo decision acknowledges the traditional rights of Indigenous people to their land and waters, and paved the way for native title in Australia.
We would like to thank our staff and students for extending the light of Welcome to our Noongar Elders and our community. Thank you all for opening your hearts and minds and listening to the truth of the Aboriginal histories of Australia.
Sonya Stephen, Amanda Winmar and Kerry Winmar-Taylor.