Wardandi Gift event celebrates schools’ history and local culture

18 May 2023

Bunbury Catholic College organised an inaugural Wardandi Gift relay race, as part of the College’s year-long 50th anniversary celebrations on 8 May 2023.

The Wardandi Gift is contested by teams of four from six local primary schools, who were representing 14 Aboriginal Language groups.

Attendees were welcomed to country by local Noongar artist, Troy Bennell, who also conducted a smoking ceremony. The Day gave hundreds of primary school students from around the Bunbury region an opportunity to celebrate Aboriginal culture, whilst exposing them to College life.

The students participated in sporting events and art immersions and exchanged knowledge about Aboriginal culture. They also had the chance to share their knowledge of the Aboriginal language groups they had been studying.

Finally, students designed a t-shirt based on their learnings.

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School who had chosen to learn about and represent the Aboriginal language group Kaneang – pronounced kan–i–yang was announced as the relay race champions. The traditional Keneang land is along the upper Blackwood River, taking in Donnybrook as well as Kojonup, Greenbushes and Bridgetown.

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School Year five student, Leah Wringe said:

‘It was awesome to be part of an event where we competed and learnt with other schools. The other schools celebrated when we won the cup. I was nervous because we had not competed against other schools that we met there.

‘The staff at Bunbury Catholic College were so nice. I knew some things about the indigenous language groups, but I learnt even more on the day.’

Arlo Skippings and Mitchell Dimasi said they enjoyed learning more about the language groups and their locations.

‘Everyone was so kind and patient and everyone was so welcoming. It felt great to be part of the event. We were happy to win the race but proud of everyone for the competition and sportsmanship.’

Madison Russo, year 5 said, ‘It was a new event and a privilege to be a part of. I was so proud of the St Mary’s Donnybrook team for winning the cup. I learnt lots about various language groups and was proud of myself for being selected for the Kaneang design t-shirt.’

A group of students from Our Lady of Lourdes School in Dardanup spoke about their highlights for the day.

‘We thought it was exciting doing all the activities and the race was intriguing to watch.  We also liked playing the games with the peer support students and the food was nice.

‘When we were researching to pick our language groups, we found out a lot about whales and we found that interesting.  We chose Mirning as one of our language groups and our logo had a whale’s tail on it. Mirning language group is near the south coast of WA (Western Australia).

‘The other language group for our school was Karajarri. When we designed our t shirt logo we drew a turtle, because turtles are found in the Pilbara, and that is where the Karajarri language group is based.

‘We would like to thank Bunbury Catholic College for inviting us and hosting an incredible day.’

Bunbury Catholic College Principal Michael Pepper described the Wardandi Gift as a fantastic way to respect and value Aboriginal culture, whilst also celebrating Bunbury Catholic College’s 50th anniversary this year.

“We enjoyed seeing our Peer Support Leaders and MADALAH scholarship students interacting with more than 200 primary school students and celebrating Aboriginal language and culture,” he said.

The Wardandi Gift will become an annual event with a trophy awarded each year to the winners of an 80m race  on the Bunbury Catholic College oval.

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