‘Resilience and strength’: Camden Haven schools come together for NAIDOC celebration

Aboriginal Elder Uncle Bill addresses the NAIDOC Week event.

MORE than 350 school students, staff and Aboriginal leaders came together to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at a NAIDOC Week event at Kendall Public School (KPS) on Friday 28 June.

Aboriginal Elder Uncle Bill opened the event with a traditional Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country.

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He told News Of The Area (NOTA) he was “extremely honoured” to be part of the celebrations.

“[It is] wonderful to see so many schools and students coming together to celebrate NAIDOC Week,” Uncle Bill said.

This was followed by several key speakers including event co-coordinators April Smith and Bryce Hayward, KPS student Ilukah White, and Camden Haven High student Kitty Miller.

A dance group made up of high school students also took to the stage.

The assembly concluded with a joint rendition of ‘The Children Came Back’.

From here the children broke into allocated groups, rotating through sixteen different activities focused on Aboriginal culture, history, language and customs.

Among those leading the student groups were Aboriginal Elders, members of the Hastings Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG), and Jarred Hodges, the First Nations Player Development Manager for the Sydney Swans.

Activities included cooking, language skills, art, dance, AFL and more.

The mammoth organisational effort to bring the event together began at the start of the school year, after a committee was formed with representatives of schools from across the Camden Haven area.

Proud Wiradjuri man and Lake Cathie Public School teacher Bryce Hayward News Of The Area (NOTA), “This event represents an opportunity for all children, not just Aboriginal students, to learn about Aboriginal culture through a variety of ways, including language, music, food, art and sport.

“One of my roles as Hastings AEGC president is to help our local schools build better relationships with community, benefiting all students.

“Our intention moving forward with this event is to continue to share culture and increase knowledge of Aboriginal history and achievements within the local community.”

Jarred Hodges, who left home at 4am on Friday morning in order to attend this event, told NOTA, “Aboriginal people have a deep connection with the game of AFL.

“The modern game of AFL derives from the First Nations people’s game of marngrook and events such as this one provides a platform to share and celebrate this history with others.”

Kitty Miller, one of the event’s key speakers, summed up the celebration beautifully.

“Today isn’t just about history books or dates, it’s about recognising the incredible resilience and strength of Indigenous Australians.

“It’s a day to celebrate our languages, art, stories, and our connection to this land that goes back thousands of years.

“And a chance to share our traditions and achievements with community.”

The event was the Camden Haven Community of Public Schools’ second NAIDOC event.

This year’s theme chosen by the National NAIDOC Committee is ‘Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud & Proud’.


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