NAIDOC Cup 2021: A day of culture, connection to country and inclusion

On Friday 18th June NCNS held our 10th annual NAIDOC Cup. The NCNS team were ecstatic that this year we were able to have our NAIDOC Cup event after missing out last year due to COVID-19.

Not only was our team thrilled but on the day, you could feel the excitement as the students and teachers began to arrive to the Hunter Fields early in the morning.

This year our MC was Jie Pittman who belongs to the Darug, Wiradjuri, Yuin, Kooma & Ngemba Nations, a man who is committed to sharing culture with Western Sydney communities and has done so for over 20 years. Jie runs our Nations in Cultural Exchange (NICE) group at Kooly and this year he elevated our event with his knowledge of culture and his entertaining personality!

One of the wonderful elements at this year at NAIDOC cup was the sand circle that we created in the middle of the field. The sand circle represents a Corroboree. It is a ceremonial meeting of Australian Aboriginals, where people interact with the Dreamtime through music, costume and dance. This is sacred.

At the beginning of the day all of the students gathered around the sand circle. This was an incredible sight to see. Uncle Greg welcomed everyone to country.

The students were then lead into a cleansing dance. The cleansing dance was about getting rid of any negative energy and spirits that were not welcomed. The cleansing dance cleanses you and the things you cannot see.

Next was the smoking ceremony where the students were invited to go through the smoke.

Jessy Currie from Nulungu Dreaming, who facilitates our Kooly Deadly Kids Dance Group taught the children about the didge, where it originates from, and the different animal noises he can make with it. He also showcased the dances he was taught from his country.

NCNS Program Manager, Aboriginal & Youth Projects, Bronwyn explained, “Having all the students gather in the circle was a highlight for me. Whilst we were watching the dancing, the girls would ask me if I could paint their face, so they could ‘look’ Aboriginal too! Even though they already are! It was also great to see some young males playing netball this year.”

After the welcoming ceremony, students separated, with the older students moving on to their netball and Oz Tag competitions while the younger students, the Joeys, moved onto their rotations of Aboriginal cultural activities including didge and dance, traditional Indigenous games, as well as cultural art and craft.

At the art and craft activity, Joeys enjoyed painting a door hanger lizard, decorating a pendant and a sticks and serpents (snakes & ladders) colouring sheet.

The traditional Indigenous games that were played on the day included Wana, Juluhya, Kolap and Mer Kolap.

Wana is when players use an underarm through to hit a target that is defended by a person with a wana (bat).

Kolap refers to the beans of the Kolap tree – the throwing objects. objects (kolaps) are thrown onto a target such as a mat. Players work in teams of two aiming to reach a set score.

Mer Kolap is a game where players work in teams to throw objects towards a designated target.

Juluhya means ‘to go down’ in the Bundjalung language. Players work together to roll a ball down a tube.

These games were played with the Joey’s so that they could experience some sporting activities on the day.

NCNS Aboriginal Project Worker, Zach enjoyed watching the students racing each to see who would come first!

The parachute game was a hit with the little ones. The Joeys loved throwing the balls up in the air and watching them go down the middle of the parachute.

Once the netball & Oz Tag Competitions were finished the winners were announced and were presented with a trophy.

 


Congratulations to Cambridge Gardens who won the Netball competition and to Penrith Public School for winning the Oz Tag Competition.

 

Before the end of the day, all of the students gathered once again around the sand circle for the closing ceremony and were invited into the circle for a good bye dance! We loved seeing the kids really let loose and showing us all their best dance moves! You could really tell that all of the students felt proud of their culture.

We loved receiving such positive feedback after the day. Tracy from the Primary Health Network told us that “The day was amazing! Not just the beautiful welcome ceremony and how much fun the kids were having but also the opportunity to catch up with people I hadn’t seen for a long time. The day had a wonderful sense of community.”

Amanda, Teacher from Mulgoa Public School explained, “The students and their families as well as the teachers, had a wonderful day of culture, connection to country and inclusion. The focus on the needs of all of the students present was very noticeable. A wonderful highlight of the day for our male students was just before the final ceremony, when they were practising throwing their boomerangs on the field and a couple of high school boys/volunteers on the day randomly went over and showed them the proper technique. The smile on our boy’s faces was priceless. “

We would like to thank our sponsors; JK Williams, Westfield Centre Management, Wentworth Healthcare – providers of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, Uniting LAC, Connect Child & Family Services and Penrith City Council.

Thank you to all of the volunteers who helped us on the day from the above mentioned organisations, from the Emu Plains Lions Club, community volunteers and high school students.

We are looking forward to seeing you all again next year!

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