Flying the Indigenous flags at Ascham

On Tuesday morning, 6 June, a very special ceremony was held at School as we raised the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at Ascham for the first time.

The flags will be a permanent fixture on our flagpoles and show our respect to the original custodians of the land our School is built on, and also mark our commitment to reconciliation, inclusion and celebration of the first nation peoples.

We were fortunate to have Dr Peter McKenzie provide a very moving Welcome to Country, before current parent Ms Nova Peris OAM OLY spoke to the whole School, and then our seven Indigenous students, all boarders, shared their stories about their country and mob and what it means to them having both flags flown at Ascham. The girls come from different areas around Australia and this diversity is acknowledged through their ancestral ties. Their mobs include: Gidja from the East Kimberley region, Maung clan of the Iwaidja peoples of North-West Arnhem land, Yarrabah, which is the Gunggandji tribe, Kamilaroi, spanning from Tamworth all the way up to Moree, Panai tribe on the western side of Mabulag Island at the top of Queensland, as well as Bundjalung and Gumbaynggirr tribes from the north coast of NSW, around Lismore and Coffs Harbour.

The girls’ stories and experiences were heartfelt and important for our School community to hear. One of them said, ‘Having the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags raised every day is significant to not only us girls at the School but also our ancestral heritage. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were created as a symbol of unity and national identity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait people.’ Another said, ‘We think that carrying on our traditions is so important. We need to carry on our culture and maintain our practices for as long as possible. Especially if we have the opportunity to learn and practise our traditions, because many people, including members of our families within the past two or three generations before us, were stripped of their culture and were denied their identity, as well as the right to learn and practise their traditions and speak their languages.’

Mr Les Daniel treated us all to a smoking ceremony before our Indigenous students raised the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags next to the Australian and Ascham flags.

As we develop our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) at Ascham, having these two flags fly every day is an important symbol that our community is committed to ongoing reconciliation with, and deep respect for, our first nation peoples.

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