MANDURAH Baptist College students gathered yesterday to watch an Indigenous smoke ceremony.
The ceremony marked the beginning of a three-year education agreement between the college and the Foundation for Indigenous Health (FISH).
Aboriginal elder and program advisor Koodah Cornwell told the group of students and teachers the smoke ceremony was an example of community effort.
“The regular man’s system is signing a paper for an agreement,” he said.
“A smoke ceremony is more than making a fire – it’s about lighting our spirit and community spirit.”
The FISH program will reconnect students in Years 9-12 with Indigenous customs through education of the identities and cultures of Noongar people.
FISH chief executive Mark Anderson said the program was curriculum based.
“The kids are beginning to take a leading role and they’re hungry to learn, which is great,” he said.
Mr Anderson said next week FISH would take students to view Ben Alton’s new film Three Summers, which will teach them about understanding each others stories despite being black, white or brindle.
“We will also be teaching students about legislation and the implications for Australian people, right from Terra-Nullius to the referendum of 1967 and also the implications of these political events,” he said.
Principal Tracey Holmes said the program would provide students with a deeper understanding of Indigenous culture.
“To have people who are so passionate and knowledgeable about what they do is special and much needed in society” she said.
The curriculum legislation will be facing reforms next year in WA with compulsory inclusion of language teaching within private and public schools to Year 3 students.
Mr Anderson said it was important to recognise the importance of the Noongar language, not just languages recommended by the education curriculum.
“Students should also have the opportunity to learn about the aboriginal language relevant to where their school is based” he said.