St Joseph's celebrates Aboriginal culture

SPECIAL DAY: Students participated in boomerang painting, cooking Johnnie Cakes, and weaving.
SPECIAL DAY: Students participated in boomerang painting, cooking Johnnie Cakes, and weaving.

St Joseph’s College celebrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements during NAIDOC celebrations last week.

“Our NAIDOC celebration began with an opening ceremony on the shady, green lawns of St Joseph’s Catholic College,” a spokeswoman from the school said.

“After a talk on the meaning of NAIDOC, acknowledgement of country, and the raising of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, our guest speaker, Mr David Paull, who had driven all the way from Darwin, gave his speech.

“An Indigenous man himself, David spoke of his journey in learning about his identity and cultural history, he also spoke about his current studies of the Yolngu Matha language which was most fitting with this year’s NAIDOC theme, ‘Our Languages Matter’.”

Students and staff, were also included in a traditional smoking ceremony.  

“Just prior to the actual ceremony, Miliwanga Wurrben, an elder from the Rembarrnga tribe, acknowledged the Jawoyn people, the traditional owners of this land, and then proceeded to gather the native leaves for burning,” the spokeswoman said.

“She also explained to us the purpose of this significant ancient custom, we learned that a smoking ceremony is performed to cleanse and ward off any potential evil spirits. “

Activity stations were in place around the College classrooms and grounds.

“The students worked together in multi-aged groups and rotated through the activities,” the spokeswoman said.

“The activities ranged from boomerang painting, cooking Johnnie Cakes, weaving with the ladies from Mimi Arts, sports events, Our Country talk by Jawoyn association rangers and videos on Indigenous way of life.

“We were also very fortunate to have a visit from Arnhem Squadron NORFORCE personnel who brought with them the Regional Force surveillance vehicle.”

“Our College stands on indigenous soil and one third of the students attending St Joseph’s Catholic College are Indigenous Australians,” the spokeswoman said.

“We therefore walk together to understand the history and culture/s of our students, their families and ancestors.  

“NAIDOC day celebrations also provides us with the opportunity to demonstrate that we value Indigenous cultures, acknowledging the importance of Australia’s history prior to white settlement and how this history has contributed to shaping our lives.”

The spokeswoman said the students had a wonderful day celebrating NAIDOC.  

“They engaged in all learning activities and worked happily alongside their peers.

“It was terrific to observe the older students supporting the younger students as they worked in the mixed aged groups, itt was also a great opportunity for students to interact with peers that they usually wouldn’t spend time with, she said”

“In particular however it was the Indigenous students who really seemed to enjoy the celebration.

“Several of the students were dressed in beautifully designed cloth and with painted faces they looked and felt the part.

“They deservingly stood out as loud and proud, as it was after all, their day, and, they knew it.”