Totems unveiling another step in Reconciliation journey


​Students hold the house totems unveiled and blessed at Mother Teresa School

MOTHER Teresa Catholic Primary School, Ormeau, has unveiled and blessed new house colour totems to conclude a successful week of NAIDOC celebrations.

The primary school engaged Jeremy Donovan, an international artist, musician and proud Kuku-Yalanji man, to create the artworks that reflect the indigenous animals and Bullongin culture of the area.

The artworks are separate canvases but, when combined, form a complete artwork to tell the story of the four totems linking together.

Following an Acknowledgment of Country by Jeremy playing his powerful didgeridoo, K.ombumerri Women and Mother Teresa School parent, Emerald Brewer, proudly explained the significance of each totem.

Ms Brewer pronounced the names in local language,  Blue (Ngurun) - the Curlew (Burulhgan), Green (Pujarbinn) - the Swamp Wallaby (Muni); Red (Gudjin) - the Red-Belly Black Snake (Juwir); and Gold (Jargam) - the Brolga (Gilgil) for the school community. 

"Our animal totems come together on Bollongin country, to represent each house group," she said.

“They instil in us, important values, that were shared by the local Bollongin people for thousands of years before our time.

“It is our responsibility as house groups, to protect our totems and to ensure they receive no harm, as the Bollongin people did so before us."

Mother Teresa Assistant Principal for Religious Education Ben Torenbeek said the unveiling was a wonderful community occasion where local First Nations leaders and families along with Parish Priest Fr Subin Thomas involved as part of the unveiling and blessing of the totems.

Mr Torenbeek said Mother Teresa had established a proud and significant embracing of First Nations peoples' recognition and the totem reveal was only one part of the overall commitment the school had towards Reconciliation.

He said the unveiling of the totems was the culmination of a process of consultation, discussion and creation over several years.

He said previous Principal, Peter Kerrins, began the process and Gina Lyons and the school's Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) committee, which included BCE Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Officer Kevin Eastment, brought it to fruition.

“Kevin has been a wonderful support and guide," Mr Torenbeek said.

As part of the celebrations Mr Eastment also presented Year 6 student Caleb McDonald with his prize for winning the student First Nations art competition.

Caleb's artwork will be displayed in the library and form the banner for the school newsletter's cultural news section.

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