At Corpus Christi, Waratah we are bringing to life the intricate connections between Catholic identity and Aboriginal spirituality. As a newly appointed Aboriginal Education teacher this year, I want to be a part of the school community acknowledging our cultural heritage and taking visible steps to encompass indigenous culture.
To begin this journey, we are using the cross, the universal symbol of Christianity, love and faith. To connect the crosses culturally, we engaged a local Aboriginal artist to individually design and paint them. The crosses unify us in solidarity and symbolise our faith, while the Aboriginal designs embrace our rich indigenous identity. The dot work of each piece communicates its own unique story.
Spirituality brings meaning to life and is at the core of Aboriginal being. Aboriginal culture is intimately connected to the land and is essentially earth centred. There are many interwoven connections between our Catholic faith and Aboriginal spiritual beliefs.
These crosses are a visual sign and reminder to reflect that we are standing upon traditional Awabakal land. As a whole school we are fostering strong links with our local Aboriginal history. This brings kinship and purpose to our school environment, not only for our Indigenous students, but for our whole-school community. I see the crosses as the beginning of a unifying journey, one that encompasses relationships – with students, teachers and our wider community.
During National Reconciliation Week, we embraced various activities, some of which centred on the crosses and our theme of “All In This Together”.
Each classroom and space within the school is now proudly adorned with a cross, whether in a learning space, on a prayer table or classroom wall.
Insight from the artist, Samantha Harrison.
“I first decided to paint crosses with Aboriginal designs to combine my culture, Aboriginal spirituality and my Catholic faith. This provided me with the opportunity to share my culture and faith with my community. I wanted to see these crosses in the classrooms of schools so that Aboriginal children could feel the connection to their faith through their culture
My two passions have always been my culture and working with children. Now I am able to bring the two together and highlight Aboriginal spirituality and Catholic faith.
These designs were specific to Corpus Christi, Waratah, and it was an honour to be able to create some amazing pieces.”
How do I see our plans proceeding from here?
As a school, we will continue to be guided on this journey with faith, tolerance and acceptance. We will continue to expand our knowledge of Aboriginal culture, both traditional and contemporary, by engaging our students in meaningful learning about Australia’s past history. As Aboriginal Education teacher I hope to provide deeper perspectives when teaching indigenous content. The whole school will continue to benefit from an inclusive and respectful engagement by ensuring we are putting Aboriginal perspectives at the core of what we do.
As school principal, Julie Mulhearn says: “As you walk through Corpus Christi, it is wonderful to witness a daily, visible reminder of the strength of community that we share through a connectedness between the Aboriginal spirituality and our Catholic faith.”
To find out more about Corpus Christi Primary School, Waratah, head to our website.