From Assistant of Wellbeing and Student Formation, Richard Bryant
The 2019 theme for Reconciliation week was – Grounded in Truth, Walk together with Courage. During this week Waverley College engaged this theme by participating in various activities, trying to gain a deeper understanding for the realness of the need for reconciliation.
During the week some classes engaged in learning beyond our curriculums. They learned about the Dreaming of the Kamilaroi and the significance of various animals and landforms to them. We created a ‘hands for healing garden’ on both College campuses which stood for the week. We created a ‘banner for healing’ in the shape of the Aboriginal Flag using our handprints which hangs proudly in the Quad until the end of the week. We became restless learning about statistics of our first nations people and how significantly different their statistics are to those of the non-indigenous people living in our country.
The week was highlighted by the assembly on Thursday. We were presented with a variety of speakers who touched our hearts with fire and passion.
Fran Grant (mother of Lachlan Yr 8 and Charlie Yr 6) spoke about growing up in a family who are directly affected by the Stolen Generation era. She spoke passionately on three topics; loss, love, and forgiveness.
Loss was the loss of country and the loss of her father who was not able to live his life to the full due to his experiences as a young boy. Fran spoke about the loss of culture which remained for so many years until Australia began to change during and after the referendum of 1969 and the first Sorry Day in 1998.
Love for Fran revolves around family. She spoke from the heart and shared with us what it is like to grow up in a family with such a close bond to culture. This bond is clearly strengthened by the love they have for each member of their family.
Forgiveness was the part of Fran’s speech I struggled with. Her story is not isolated to her family and sadly, not an uncommon story to hear. It is, however, important for us as a Waverley College community to hear. In hearing this we can recognise what has happened in the past and begin to be the leaders for reconciliation in the future.
We invited the First Nations students from Christian Brothers College, Lewisham and St Ignatius’ College Riverview to come and present to us. They bought with them 20 performers and two speakers.
Noah Allan and Jarvis Lake (Yr 11 SIC) spoke beautifully and bought into context what Reconciliation Week is all about. They spoke in their traditional language and from the heart, delivering staggering statistics about their people. We have learned about these statistics in our various classes but to be told by two young First Nation boys, these statistics take on a significantly different level of importance.
The performers were unbelievable and kept what is normally a ‘jumpy’ Waverley cohort engaged and thirsty to know and learn more. Led by Ezekiel Billy and Jack Stone (Yr 12 SIC) they demonstrated to Waverley, and more importantly, our First Nations boys that it is more than okay to be proud of your culture and we should be free to express it in an open forum. They sang danced and played traditional instruments keeping us all entertained for over an hour. Have a sneak-peek here:
Fran Grant, Kaleb and his mob did amazing things for Waverley’s First Nations programme. They have reignited our aboriginal culture with fire from the heart. After CBHS and Riverview had left our First Nations boys drew up a plan on how to move forward from here. They now want to own their culture and own their future like your men role modelled during the assembly which is exciting.