The 2022 CBCA Conference brought together a range of speakers and covered significant topics deftly woven together with connections to country and an Australian Aboriginal presence that aptly encouraged participants to dream of possibilities and look at the world with open eyes to consider different points of view. As a virtual attendee Jennie Bales draws together some of these Aboriginal perspectives.
I heard some wonderful things about the launch of the conference on the Friday evening, understandably not accessible via video link, but fortunately I had a colleague happy to share a little about the opening ceremony.
Duncan Smith OAM delivered the Acknowledgement of Country as a Wiradjuri man on Ngunnawal Country and together with his daughter Jakida, performed the Sweeping and Cleansing Dance to a rapt CBCA audience. Both Duncan and Jakida are members of Wiradjuri Echoes and they performed several dances beautifully illustrating Wiradjuri culture. Duncan introduced his stunning new book, We Are Australians, which was written in collaboration with Nicole Goodwin and incorporates the artwork of Jandamarra Cadd. The previously created paintings are stunning illustrations for the book and Duncan acknowledged how grateful he and Nicole were to be able to use Cadd's work. Both Duncan and Jakida were gracious with their time following the performance, staying around for photos and answering questions. It was an exciting and entertaining way to open the conference. (Thank you Louise Saint-John for sharing your experience)
|We Are Australians, 2022, published by Simon and Schuster|
|Respect, 2020, Magabala Books|
Reconciliation - you have to go on a journey of learning yourself as a prelude to teaching y our students. All students need to know about county and culture as it is everyone’s history – visit places and read books.
Authority - Know about the author – current practice is to include that info in the blurbs, contact the publisher and inquire. First Nations people tend to write in a different way and with a different flavour.
Aboriginal English - need to take in account aboriginal expression and language – elders may not have a strong literacy background, and today many kids just write down their thoughts and ideas in Koori English – often spoken at home. It is a recognised language and needs to be accepted.
Oral tradition and reading aloud – oral storytelling a traditional practice that continues today. Encourage and exemplify in practice. Model how to ‘read’ the illustrations, young people need more storytelling to fuel the imagination.
Dreaming stories – understand which country each story comes from -e.g., Rainbow Story is from northern Australia – not all communities have Rainbow Story as their creator. Important that the author knows this as well. Remember that some stories are sometimes individual stories of personal dreams. If doing in class, speak to a local person and find out about the creator spirit of that country.
Be respectful of art and culture in displays and activities. Find out styles that are representative of the land you are on. E.g., Dot painting are reflective of First Nation people living in desert country, hatch work found in Victoria. It is first nations art and should reflect the country on which they are situated.
Useful information sources:
Deadly & Proud Victorian State Government
miss.gibbs - resources for curriculum shared on Instagram
|Our Dreaming, 2022, Scholastic|
Professor Belle Alderman session Dreaming of Finding, Celebrating and Preserving Australian Children’s Literature provided fascinating insights into the work of the National Centre for Australian Children's Literature which included coverage on the creation and development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Database. Belle has written about this frequently including a post on this blog. This presentation also covered the work of the Centre to preserve and promote Australian Children’s Literature and the valuable contribution of volunteers in the process.
Open your Hear to Country
2022, Magabala Books
Other sessions that continued to help us open our eyes to First Nations peoples included Jasmine Seymour reading her recently released Open Your Heart to Country where the combination of words and illustrations appears as poetry in motion. Jasmine discussed the importance of investing in indigenous languages and how multilingual texts support students from diverse backgrounds and celebrate country.
|Welcome to Our Country series, Allen & Unwin|
Writing this post has helped me revisit some of the key sessions and reflect on the strong messages that were conveyed by passionate presenters. This snapshot focuses on opening our eyes to Aboriginal culture, country, reconciliation and unity – a truly memorable and worthwhile thread woven into the program. A wonderful conference experience!
Adjunct lecturer, retired teacher librarian and reader,
CBCA Tasmania Social Media Coordinator.