On Friday 25 November, John Lochowiak performed Welcome to Country at the opening of the Indigenous garden at Xavier College in Gawler, South Australia.
Each day, as students walk past our Indigenous garden, they are greeted by a sign that says “Marni naa pudni Kaurna yartanna” which means, “Good you came to Kaurna Land.” Careful consideration and community consultation helped the creation of a space where every person can find a connection. Many of our Indigenous families feel a special connection because they planted shrubs in the garden working alongside Yardstick Landscape Services.
The Indigenous garden represents various areas in South Australia. Red rocks and spiky bushes represent the desert areas, green grassy areas with wide open spaces represent the plains and a sandy rocky area represents the coastal regions. Anyone who visits the garden will be able to find a connection to one or all of the areas. Coursing down the centre of the garden is a waterway that can be very full in winter and dry in summer, reminding us that water is life-giving and that we need to take care of this precious resource.
In the centre of our garden are three stunning story poles. They connect Aboriginal and Christian spirituality. The rainbow serpent carved out rivers and gorges as it moved across the land. The rainbow serpent weaves across all three poles. The black pole represents night, the yellow pole represents the sun and the ochre pole represents the land. The poles were created when Chris Crebbin (Burthumarr) was an artist in residence at Xavier College in 2013. Staff and students helped to paint parts of the poles.
John Lochowiak welcomed us to Kaurna country with a traditional song in Kaurna which welcomes people and scares away bad spirits. The song also has a reconciliation component to help with working together. John explained why it is important to acknowledge the past, present and future elders. Elders educate others about traditional ways and the importance of caring for our environment.
Among the guests were students and staff, old scholars, future students, family members, Chairperson Stephen Redden, Board members, former Chairperson Alexander Houthuysen, former College Captain Sasha Houthuysen, Chris Crebbin, a representative for the member for Light, Yardstick Landscape Services and Design Studio.
Xavier College is committed to Reconciliation and the Indigenous garden is closely connected with our Reconciliation Action Plan. The garden is a place for meditation and reflection and has been designed so that is can be used as outdoor classroom. College Principal Lynn Martin thanked everyone in attendance and spoke about how the garden is like a vein running through the centre of the College, giving life to the College.
Adla Mattiske, Indigenous Education Focus Teacher
Source: Xavier College Gawler