Kindy kids connect with community for Reconciliation Week

Port Elliot children invited the community into their kindergarten on Friday, May 28 for a moving Reconciliation Week event.

The afternoon opened with a Welcome to Country by Ngarrindjeri woman Jade McHughes, a smoking ceremony by Narangga Ngarrindjeri man Cedric Varcoe, and didgeridoo playing by Warumungu and Yuggera man Dave Booth.

Kindergarten director Sarah Mack welcomed Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the community, along with Port Elliot Primary School students and kindergarten children.

The kindergarten children recited an Acknowledgement of Country, something they do every day.

Mrs Mack said the "amazing" day was about having conversations and gathering together.

"For me, I was really emotional during the smoking ceremony, with the didgeridoo playing," she said.

"Watching Cedric come around and people grabbing the smoke and putting it over them - people of every age, Indigenous or non-Indigenous, it didn't matter."

She said there were two reasons why the kindergarten held the event.

The first reason was to open a mural at the kindergarten which was painted by Mr Varcoe, telling the stories of Ngurunderi and Kondoli.

The second reason was to launch the kindergarten's Reconciliation Action Plan, which staff had worked on for 12 months.

"It's about taking action within the community ... it's authentic, not a token, a proper investment in reconciliation," Mrs Mack said.

"The intention of creating the plan was we could see a desire to build relationships with Aboriginal people and incorporate culture in a respectful way.

"It gave us an opportunity to discuss how to achieve that; we know our effort towards reconciliation is ongoing."

Attendees could participate in rock painting and have their face painted while enjoying a performance from the Deadly Nannas and a sausage sizzle cooked by the Rotary Club of Victor Harbor.

Also part of the day was the official launch of the third edition of the Ngarrindjeri Dictionary, produced by Ngarrindjeri Elder Phyllis Williams and linguist Mary-Anne Gale.

Various publications, including the dictionary, were sold at the event and some sold out.

Mrs Mack said members of the community were grateful for such an afternoon of learning and sharing.

"Some Aboriginal people came up to me during the event and said they felt really welcome, that it was not tokenistic, it was really genuine," she said.

"We've set a standard - there's no excuse to not build connections, or further your understanding."


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