"From the Tiwi strong women: "The Wangatunga Strong Women: Wangatunga (n.) - 1.a broad basket made from stringybark; 2. a baby girl “Ngawa ampi nginiwutawa putuwurrupurra awarra ngirraminni api awarra ngawarra ningurimagi. Karri ngapaningimarri ngaruwanajirri ngini ngarikirmi ngirraminni ngini ngawa ngarukuruwala.”
(The knowledge our ancestors left for us in the stories is something that we must hold on to. When we gather around we share together what is in the stories that we sing together.)"
Earlier this year in a meet up with the Wangatunga Women's group the ladies raised how they are getting older, and would like to do more work with young ones in community to share and pass down their knowledge.
During our time spent on Tiwi Islands in March, we worked from Xavier Catholic College - the senior school at Wurrumiyanga, Bathurst Island. During discussions with Tiwi staff and school educators there was interest in developing a leadership project for young female students.
As our regular Tiwi Youth Girls Leadership program with Australian Defence force is currently on hold (due to travel restrictions) we have invested in working to support co-design a new Tiwi Youth Girls Leadership initiative - a collaboration between Xavier Catholic College and the Wangatunga Strong Women's group.
The first step being, accessing funds to support the women with their cultural practice and teaching and sourcing the supplies and materials to teach students. Thankfully the school has been successful in applying for the NT Government 'Artists in Schools' funding round.
Last week on the back of this news, school leaders and the women held their first meeting to plan out then next ten weeks of activities. We will be providing in-kind background and administrative support and ensuring the project is delivered with good governance, by documenting the process and learnings throughout.
The vision is for over the course of the cultural learning sessions, is for students to work with the women on a large creation that could be displayed in the entrance of Xavier College, building personal, school & community pride. The aim is for the College to support its young female students to learn new skills, whilst engaging in old ways of learning to keep culture strong.
Keep connected to follow this journey along the way, weaving for change.
Photo supplied by Xavier Catholic College and shared with permission