Perth Waldorf School
Special Reconciliation Project
Class 7 Wardong students past and present are deeply honoured to be participating in a very special reconciliation project, assisting in the illustration of an ancient Noongar Dreamtime story.
Like all great collaborative projects, this one has taken time to begin to bear fruit. The seed was planted over two years ago, during a chance encounter with a fluent Noongar language speaker and teacher Tim McCabe, whose own teacher was respected Elder Cliff Humphries. Elder Humphries was described as “a library of Noongar language, song and culture.” He was also a wonderful storyteller and custodian of a number of stories and songs, and it was his wish that these be taught and used to support the preservation of Noongar language and culture.
Through gentle and culturally sensitive engagement with the daughters of Elder Cliff Humphries, Rachel and Dawn, and his grandson Clive, the students at Perth Waldorf School are now privileged to be working alongside the Elder’s great grandson Donald, illustrating one of his great grandfather’s Dreamtime stories.
Under the watchful eye of the family of Elder Cliff Humphries, who are overseeing the process, Class 7 Wardong students are working in teams, led by volunteers and former Wardongs from Class 9, a Class 12 student, and a PWS graduate, to fill each page with the beauty and wonder of the precolonial Noongar Garden.
This is a cross-collaboration between primary, high and former students, who are also being afforded the precious opportunity to hear ancient middar songs sung by Donald and Tim, and deepen their understandings of Noongar language, culture, flora and fauna so they hold the requisite knowledge and reverence and do justice to the magnificent story.
True reconciliation must offer something of value to First Nations communities. It needs to involve Wadjella proactively taking measures to understand, repair, heal, and support restoration and preservation of Indigenous knowledge through the building of respectful trusting relationships. As places and spaces of education and social change, schools are important sites for this work.
Those involved in the project hope to be of service to the Noongar community and future generations, in supporting the family to publish the first of what may be a wonderful collection of precious ancient stories and songs. These form an important part of Noongar history and culture and we are blessed to be a part of such an endeavour.
We hope to share the story with the wider community later this year.
Elaine Meyer and Patricia Crook