Creative energy swirled around our school like a warm summer breeze, as students engaged in a range of incursions and activities for Reconciliation Week.

Giant puppets, Dreamtime Stories, song and dance performances and the hovering, swooping, gliding presence of the massive Cowara Bird skimming over students’ heads in the undercover area, brought this Wardandi elders’ dreaming story of the Cowara (the Purple-Crowned Lorikeet) and the Rainbow Woman to life. Students were riveted as they watched the story of how Cowaramup got its name through this contemporary dance performance featuring local children from our community.

Are you one of the lucky 500 who watched this performance live “in front of a setting sun in the park in Cowaramup” in November last year?

What a great introduction to Reconciliation Week, setting the scene for an honest and creative display of cultural values to create shared understandings.

Creating art with artists Michelle and Cara, students used the dreaming story to design and make their own bright and colourful Cowara birds. Each creation was unique but with the common characteristics of a purple crown, yellow cheeks and red under the wings. The Cowara birds have been hung as a flock in classrooms or taken home to fly at will as a memory of this dreaming story.

From basking in the shining colours of art and culture, National Sorry Day brought a more sombre tone with its focus on history, and it created a space for all to reflect on the events which prompted Kevin Rudd’s Apology.

Reconciliation Week At Mrps 5

Jansie (our Aboriginal Islander Education Officer) has brought a modern dynamic presence to this role, developing our inaugural group of Cultural Connections leaders, and innovating activities and experiences that meet our students’ interests and needs.

In a welcoming sign of hope, Room 2 now has a Yarning Tree installation, an initiative of art teacher Sally Fawcett, brought into being through numerous craft sessions with Sally and Jansie where students chatted as they wound wool around raffia to create the tree trunk and its branches. Students were also encouraged to create an artwork gum leaf for the tree and there are hundreds. This is a work in progress and is looking amazing!

In Jansie’s words, the yarning tree in Room 2 represents:

On a more formal note, our cultural connection leaders were invited to participate with the high school in the Walk for Reconciliation hosted by the City of Busselton – a culminating event to close Reconciliation Week for 2024.

Jansie said:

So, after a week or more of activities, we leave this space with a greater understanding of stories and their place in Culture, the need for shared understanding and empathy, and standing alongside all our students as they navigate their way through life.

Written and posted by Dawn Veary; Photos by Jansie and Dawn Veary

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