Cowra High celebrates Indigenous culture

Helene Hamilton, Jared Burns and the Wagambirra Dancers with the school's new sculpture.
Helene Hamilton, Jared Burns and the Wagambirra Dancers with the school's new sculpture.

It was a message of celebration and community when Cowra High came together for their NAIDOC celebrations on Friday afternoon.

Whilst officially NAIDOC Week had been moved from July to November, Cowra High had planned their celebrations to coincide with the unveiling of a new sculpture outside the school.

On Friday the school took part in a smoking ceremony and were treated to a performance by the school's Wagambirra Dancers supported by Dinawan's Connection.

Throughout the week the students had taken part in Indigenous games during their practical PE classes.

Cowra High Cultural Youth Worker, Jared Burns, said it was important to have NAIDOC celebrations during these uncertain times.

"We had been organising this for a long time, with the setback of NAIDOC to November due to COVID it was a shame we couldn't do it in sync with that, but the show goes on," he said.

"It shows the continuation of Indigenous culture through everything.

"I enjoy showing culture with the kids of the school, they really enjoy it and the kids really enjoy performing it."

He said the school's new sculpture which depicts three panels stating "Always Was Always Will Be Wiradjuri" was an important message to deliver.

"It's a really famous saying and has been used by First Nations people for a long time," he said.

"It ties in well with the theme of NAIDOC this week, 'Always Was, Always Will Be'.

"We stand on Wiradjuri country, we get everything from Wiradjuri country and it's only right that we show that recognition."

Dinawan's Connection member, Will Ingram, said it had been fantastic to support the school's NAIDOC celebrations.

"We are always happy to be part of NAIDOC, the biggest thing about Aboriginal culture is that it's shared and is for everyone," he said.

"If everyone gets something out of it then the job of continuation is ongoing.

"It only gets better and better the more people partake."

He said Dinawan's Connection loved taking part in celebrations of Indigenous culture.

"We're always happy to help with the high school and other agencies in Cowra," he said.

"Culture is our passion and that's what we love doing, so we are always happy to give up our time to do that."

He said the school's new sculpture was a great step of recognition.

"The recognition is a big thing, it's slowly getting to the point where Aboriginal continuation of culture is going to be recognised across Australia mainstream," he said.

"Small steps but good steps in the same process."

Cowra High School Principal, Helene Hamilton, said it was an exciting time for the school.

"It's really special that we have this opportunity," she said.

"We're very proud of our Aboriginal heritage at Cowra High School, but it's also a huge sense of inclusivity where all of our kids from all different cultures come together and really appreciate and enjoy watching.

"Having that cultural awareness is also really good for our Aboriginal and non Aboriginal children and you could see that today."

She said the inclusion of Dinawan's Connection and the unveiling of the school's new sculpture brought the community into their celebrations.

"Thanks to Will and the Aboriginal education team at Cowra High School they are a fantastic family," she said.

"That helps create the Cowra High School family and shows that public education prides itself on inclusivity.

"Once we can get community to come back on school grounds it will be very exciting times and we can have them part of our learning."