NAIDOC Week 2021
This week Loreto Normanhurst celebrated NAIDOC Week and explored the theme ‘Heal Country’. Our Assembly began with a beautiful Welcome to Country by Aunty Tracie Howie, a direct descendant of Bungaree and Matora of the Gargial and Walkaloa mobs of the Wannangini Nation, better known today as the Awabakal and Guringai. She spoke deeply about what Country is to her. For Aunty Tracey,
“Country is life, love, health, happiness and sustenance….Mother Earth is alive and breathing. She shelters us, feeds, relaxes and sustains us…”
Aunty Tracey encouraged us to identify our own go-to spot that sustains and nourishes us. Our students reflected on this and responded to the following questions to guide them in this reflection: Where is a place that you feel really connected to and safe? Name the place – what does it smell like, what can you see, what can you feel? What makes you feel safe and connected – describe it. What is the Indigenous name of the Land you are on now? Where is your healing place? In response these questions all students identified for themselves where they felt most connected to Country. Here we include two of those deeply personal responses:
“The place I feel most safe and connected to is Avoca Beach where we go for the holidays.
The air is fresh with the smell of the sea salt making your nose tingle. I see the bright yellow sand glistening in the sunlight and the crystal clear blue waves turning foamy as they reach the shore. There’s the sight of seagulls flapping around together scavenging for food. I feel the soft sea breeze brush against me as I walk along the beach, the sand in between my toes.
This place makes me feel connected and safe because it is very relaxing and peaceful watching the waves crash against the shore and the beauty of this beach is amazing. The sounds of nature allow me to relax and feel a sense of belonging with the world. The people there are also very welcoming and have a great sense of community. There is an area on the beach that is full of rocks and a mini cliff which is my healing place as it is quiet and has really good views of the ocean.
Avoca beach was first inhabited by the Darkinjung and Awabakal peoples. The Indigenous Land I am on right now is of the Dharug people.”
Emma O’Brien, Year 8
“My name is Shayarnee Burns and I am a proud Kunja and Barkindji woman from Wellington, NSW. I currently reside on Wiradjuri country, where two rivers meet and gum trees blossom. Barkindji country is dry, yet beautiful, as the river silently prods the riverbank. Kunja country encompasses a magical view of native trees swaying in the dry wind and the clearest blue skies.
As we recognised and celebrated NAIDOC Week 2021 as a whole community, even via Zoom, I felt very supported by all staff and students. The NAIDOC theme for this year is ‘Heal Country’ which called for all of us to continue to seek greater protection for our lands, waters, sacred sites and Aboriginal heritage from exploitation, desecration and destruction. To me, country is more than just the surrounding land. It encompasses my identity as a young, proud Indigenous woman and gives me all that I need to survive in this world. It is at the basis of all my relationships and provides me with my spirituality. The protection and security the land provides me is beyond belief; I can feel safe wherever I go knowing that I am sheltered from all harm by the ancestral beings beneath the earth and my ancestors watching me from above. In 2021, I encourage all to come together to help heal our nation as we seek to provide better for the many generations of the future.”
Shayarnee Burns, Year 12
Some students were guided through an Indigenous meditation created for NAIDOC Week by the Uti Kulintjaku project at Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council (NPYWC) in the Norther Territory. Please click here to undertake the mediation.
Mrs Elizabeth Parker
Director of Mission