The purpose of Reconciliation Day 2019 is profound and clear: To foster positive race relations, the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the broader community must be grounded in a foundation of truth.
Whether you’re engaging in challenging conversations or unlearning and relearning what you know, this journey requires all to walk together with courage.
Despite the heavens threatening some rain intermittently throughout the day, the reconciliation assembly at Lakes Entrance Secondary College, held in conjunction with Lakes Entrance Aboriginal Health Association (LEAHA), was a resounding success last Friday.
The ceremony began at 11am as more than 550 students assembled respectfully on a shivery morning to hear a Welcome to Country delivered by Aunty Phyllis Andy and to witness a flag raising by principal, Craig Sutherland, and Aunty Phyllis.
The school captains spoke eloquently about what reconciliation means to them, and James Hood, of Toorloo Arm Primary School, recited a powerful poem he had written for the occasion.
The school’s band then played as the sun broke through.
There was a series of activities for the students to engage in: sand painting, decorating boomerangs, hand-printing a banner, creating decorated wooden animals and eating a ridiculous amount of barbecued food.
There was a disco in the gymnasium and a round of cupcakes to conclude the day.
The most significant piece was the walk in a large group around the oval.
Lined respectfully behind the elders, carrying a banner bearing hundreds of colourful hand prints to the soulful sound of a didgeridoo, the school walked slowly and reflectively to ponder the meaning of the day.
Tiny students held the hands of big ones and teachers were wreathed in smiles as they observed the level of engagement with the activities that demonstrated the potency of a harmonious community.
It was a powerful coming together and a sense of healing.
Guests included beautifully behaved students from Lakes Entrance, Nowa Nowa, Nungurner, St Brendan’s, Swan Reach and Toorloo Arm primary schools, and their dedicated staff. The mood was buoyant and good will was evident.
PICTURED: Lakes Entrance Secondary College principal, Craig Sutherland, and Aunty Phyllis Andy raised the Australian and Aboriginal flags at the school’s reconciliation assembly last Friday. More photos in next week’s Post.