Ngalla Maya Kadidjiny – Chisholm Catholic College open yarning circle space

31 May 2021

Last week the Chisholm Catholic College community held an opening ceremony for their Ngalla Maya Kadidjiny yarning circle space, a new cultural space that has been in the works since Term Four 2020. 

Aboriginal students at the College gathered last year at the potential site of Ngalla Maya Kadidjiny – a Noongar name which translates to ‘Our Place of Learning’ – to begin discussions around why a yarning circle space was important and what it would represent.

Emily Smith, an Aboriginal Liaison Officer at the College, said the chosen name reflected the students’ desire to incorporate how they felt about Chisholm – that it was ‘our place’ to learn together. 

“A yarning circle is a harmonious, creative and collaborative way of communicating,” Mrs Smith said. 

“For thousands of years, they have been used to encourage responsible, respectful and honest interactions between participants, building trusting relationships. They provide a safe place to be heard and respond,” 

The students chose to develop an art piece for the centre of the yarning circle, based on the six Noongar seasons to connect with the outdoor setting of Ngalla Maya Kadidjiny. 

The space and artwork are intended to serve not just as a place for connecting, but also as an outdoor classroom, where students will learn from each other as they ‘yarn’. 

The College’s Head Boy and Head Girl had the opportunity to speak about the yarning circle at assembly, ahead of the opening ceremony.

“We are lucky enough to have an Aboriginal community amongst us, encouraging us to grow and develop together… The yarning circle, which will be officially opened with a smoking ceremony, is intended for use by all students,” 

“The name of the yarning circle ‘Our Place of Learning’ represents Chisholm’s togetherness, and that we are all to share this space to reflect and learn as one,” 

The smoking ceremony was facilitated by the Wadumbah Dance Group, who shared stories, dance and music as part of the opening. 

Belinda Pietropaolo, Acting Deputy Principal Community at the College, said that “students thought it was important for the Chisholm community to have a cultural space within the school that represented the First Nations people,” 

“This space gives us new opportunities to learn and grow,” she said.

Chisholm Catholic College Principal, John Bormolini, said that “reconciliation continues to be a growing focus on our journey of understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal cultures and histories,”

“At the heart of this journey is the true spirit of getting together and visible action in our surroundings and community.”

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