Schools in the Manning region celebrate NAIDOC Week

The theme for NAIDOC Week 2017, ‘Our Languages Matter’, was celebrated through special ceremonies, Indigenous games, traditional song and dance, storytelling, artwork, and guest speakers in the Manning region.

At St Clare’s High School, Taree, the Year 10 Aboriginal Studies class and their Aboriginal Education Teacher, Michelle Case, organised a special celebration for NAIDOC Week. Students performed a welcome dance to country as well as a spectacular performance from the school band.

Former student and guest speaker, Gordon McDonald, addressed the assembly with an Acknowledgement to Country, following a powerful presentation about the importance of language to Aboriginal people and the revival of the Gathang language that has led to the establishment of an online language dictionary.

“It was a special occasion for both our school and Aboriginal community as all students, staff, parents and guests were invited to place the three Aboriginal colours, red, black and yellow on their heads as a sign of respect for the Aboriginal community and for the Stolen Generation,” said, Mrs Case.

Ralph Saunders from the local indigenous community radio station, Ngarralinyi 103.3 FM, broadcast from the school grounds, interviewing students and playing music to accompany the cultural activities for all to participate in. The activities included indigenous sports, dancing and boomerang painting.

Up the road at St Joseph’s Primary School, Taree, the school community held a special concert, along with NAIDOC activities and a delicious morning tea.

“Our hall was full of students and visitors for this special celebration and our AEWs, Aunty Naomi, Aunty Tahnee and Aunty Kylie did a wonderful job in helping the children prepare the concert. Our students performed a number of Aboriginal dances and sang songs in Gathang language.

“One of the highlights was our Year 2 Aboriginal students who performed the Native Bee Dance, written by Uncle Jay,” said teacher, Melissa Hunt.

Over the river, students, teachers and parents of St Joseph’s Primary School, Wingham, gathered together for the annual NAIDOC ceremony to celebrate reconciliation and respect for all.

Throughout the day, students participated in various cultural activities including sampling traditional ‘Aussie bush tucker’ such as kangaroo, played Indigenous games, listened to storytelling and created Indigenous art.

“We maintain strong links between our school and the Indigenous members of the local community, through significant events such as NAIDOC Week, as well as the program, ‘Our Words, Our Stories’. This program, run by Childcare Services Taree and Districts, invites Aboriginal people to share their stories, traditional or biographical and visit the school to read to the students. It is a wonderful opportunity for our school to appreciate and foster a deeper understanding of Aboriginal culture,” said principal, Emma Timmins.

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Gabrielle Sutherland Image
Gabrielle Sutherland

Gabrielle Sutherland is a Marketing & Communications Officer for the Catholic Schools Office and a regular contributor to and Aurora.