Frank McGregor (Year 11) and Vincent McGregor (Year 8) with the Cross decorated by artist Niketa Law which stands at the heart of the Bunya Dreaming Garden … the red represents the red soil of Kingaroy, the blue the local rivers and the green the Bunya Mountains

May 29, 2013

St Mary’s Catholic College in Kingaroy has marked National Reconciliation Week with a special ceremony and the official opening of the school’s Bunya Dreaming Garden.

Students from all grades joined with Aboriginal elders and other invited guests in the Maryknoll Centre on Wednesday to pray, watch a parable on stage about racism acted by senior students, and watch the short video “Racism – It Stops With Me”.

The focus then shifted across campus for the blessing and official opening of the school’s new Bunya Dreaming Garden, which overlooks Kingaroy towards the Bunya Mountains.

The garden features a large Cross, decorated by Cherbourg artist Niketa Law, and a pavement artwork created by the Stewart family that depicts the three-yearly gathering of different tribal groups at the Bunya Mountains for feasts.

There is also a small firepit area for ceremonies.

The concept of the garden came from an idea by the school’s former Indigenous education teacher Lauren Arrell, and developed in consultation with local Elders.

Grass trees have been planted that represent some of the different nations that attended the Bunya Mountains feasts, including the Wakka Wakka, Gubbi Gubbi, Jagera and Yugambeh.

Wakka Wakka elder Eric Law explained the significance of the Bunya Mountains to the assembled guests before Fr John Hong, from the Kingaroy Catholic parish, blessed the garden.

Fr John and Mr Law then jointly opened the garden.

From the National Reconciliation website:

National Reconciliation Week is celebrated across Australia each year between May 27 and June 3.

The dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey: the anniversaries of the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.

May 27 marks the anniversary of Australia’s most successful referendum and a defining event in our nation’s history. The 1967 referendum saw over 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.

On June 3, 1992, the High Court of Australia delivered its landmark Mabo decision which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land that existed prior to colonalisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights called Native Title.

A smoking ceremony blessed students and visitors as they entered the Maryknoll Centre

Students played clapsticks and the didgeridoo during the smoking ceremony
Year 11 student Frank McGregor, from Cherbourg, was guiding the smoking ceremony
Rachael Patroni (Year 12) and Elila-Rose Mkakanzi (Year 11) … the Reconciliation Week prayer ceremony included a dramatization of a modern parable about the “very silly” Black / White and White / Black people who always fought until one day they recognised themselves in each other when they saw their reflections reversed in a waterhole

St Mary’s principal Michael Nayler with assistant principal Marty Perrett

The reconciled Black/White and White/Black people shared painted crosses with the assembly

Emma Rivers, Aunty Shirley Law and Niketa Law from St Joseph’s, Murgon

Wakka Wakka elder Uncle Eric Law with Kevin Eastment from Catholic Education, Brisbane

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington with TAFE teacher Margaret Cobbo

College captains Samantha Watson and Matthew Guteridge welcomed guests
Kingaroy parish priest Fr John Hong blessed the Bunya Dreaming Garden which is on high land looking across town to the Bunya Mountains
St Mary’s Indigenous Support Worker Valerie Mathews led the students in a hymn
Fr John Hong and Uncle Eric Law officially opened the Bunya Dreaming Garden
Uncle Les Stewart and Barbara Stewart designed and painted the impressive centrepiece of the Bunya Dreaming Garden which depicts the coming together of different people at the Bunya Mountains; Mr Stewart explained the design of the painting to the guests
Elders, school staff and invited guests gather under the Bunya Dreaming Garden Cross

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Racism – It Stops With Me

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