WARNING: Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders are warned that this article makes reference to and names a person who has since passed away.
This is a story from Canning Vale Pre-kindy WA about connecting with Aboriginal Community and celebrating National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.
It takes time―Developing connections with the Aboriginal community in the area
Lisa Vreeken, from Canning Vale Pre-kindy WA, told Sandy Clark, WA KidsMatter Early Childhood Facilitator, that over the years she ‘had put out feelers’ and tried lots of different ways to make connections … via parents, discussions on Facebook and the local council.
Once, after a number of setbacks, Lisa started to wonder ‘what am I doing wrong?’
She has since learnt to keep trying because developing relationships take time.
“We’ve made mistakes, but our efforts have been appreciated, and the errors patiently explained”.
With time, the connections and relationships continue to develop and from these more opportunities to connect as a community grow.
Kanyini Chant ― Bringing Communities Together
One aim was to learn the Kanyini Chant co-written by Bob Randall (now deceased), a Tjilpi (special Uncle) of the Yankunytjatjara Nation and Christine Morrison, an Australian musician and composer.
Although the chant is not in Noongar (local Aboriginal Country) language, it was written to bring communities together, to build understanding and acceptance of differences.
Because Christine was unable to attend to teach the children herself, Lisa asked if she could teach the Kanyini Chant instead. The answer was a definite yes. Lisa purchased the song from iTunes, and they have learned it together with the children. They now incorporate the chant into their daily experiences.
‘We use tapping sticks and consciously play quietly and slowly. The chant is part of our focus on “mindfulness” at our end-of-session gatherings’.
Lisa and the team have discovered that the children respond in a calmer way if the original song (including didgeridoo music) plays in the background.
Respect for land and Culture
We had Noongar dance workshops and then on Sunday our families got together with members of the local Noongar community for a Welcome to Country. After this time was spent creating a mural. An Aboriginal Elder gave the Welcome to Country, and a local Noongar/Arrente artist created the mural.
On the mural, the artist painted white dots to outline the rainbow serpent. She explained that dots are not traditionally a feature of Nyoongar art but noted that more recently Nyoongar art sometimes incorporates dot painting. Dots feature in her artwork because she is Arrente on her father’s side. Find more information about the artist at http://www.jdpenangke.com/about.
Parents also contributed to the mural by outlining handprints belonging to the pre-kindy children, their siblings and educators with dots.
Kanyini reflects the principles of connectedness and responsibility
These celebrations are just part of an ongoing commitment to improve staff knowledge and include Aboriginal culture at their pre-kindy.
Kanyini is an Australian Indigenous word. Kanyini is the principle of connectedness through caring and responsibility that underpins Aboriginal life. Kanyini is a connectedness to tjukurrpa (knowledge of creation or 'Dreaming', spirituality), ngura (place, land), walytja (kinship) and kurunpa (spirit or soul).
For anyone wanting to learn more about the Kanyini chant, the words, the meaning, the creators
“Connection to the four lines gives you a sense of wholeness, of belonging. That sense of belonging carries with it a responsibility. Kanyini means ‘love with responsibility’. These principles need to be actioned. They flow from the mind through thoughts and words, but come to life through action. You can apply Kanyini principles in your own life. Start from where you are now by applying unconditional love with your partner, family, friends, workmates, acquaintances. It spreads outward from you until you can talk to anybody anywhere in the world. Learning from each other means understanding and accepting differences. This is easier than you think. It is amazing to see when you get together there are far more similarities than differences. This makes a pathway or a bridge for better understanding and being together so our children can grow up closer together.” ― Bob Randall
MEANING OF THE WORDS:
Kanyini: interconnectedness, responsibility, oneness, unconditional love for all creation, and it envelops the four principles of Aboriginal life: Tjukurpa, Kurunpa, Ngura & Waltja.
Tjukurpa: creation/dreamtime/belief system. Everything is one. Everything is connected. This is handed down as a guiding law.
Kurunpa: spirituality, your soul.
Ngura: land, mother earth, land connection, a sense of belonging.
Walytja: Family, kinship, expanding outwards from one’s human family to include relationships with all living things.
Anangu: Western Desert language for person from that area.
Napartji Napartji: come now/come along, let’s walk together in harmony, side by side.
About Kanyini Chant
- Ngyalu Kanyini — Kanyini Ngyalu (myself and Kanyini are one — Kanyini and myself are one)
- Ngyalu Tjukurpa — Tjukurpa Kanyini Ngyalu (myself and creation are one — creation, kanyini and myself are one)
- Ngyalu Kurunpa — Kurunpa Kanyini Ngyalu (myself and my soul/spirit are one — my soul/spirit, kanyini and myself are one)
- Ngyalu Ngura — Ngura Kanyini Ngyalu (myself and the land are one — the land, kanyini and myself are one)
- Ngyalu Walytja — Walytja Kanyini Ngyalu (myself and my family are one — my family, kanyini and myself are one)
- Anangu Tjuta Napartji Napartji, Kanyini Ngyalu (many of our people, come now, lets walk together in harmony, and be one with kanyini )
- We are one, we are free. Love is my responsibility.
We are one, one family. Love is my responsibility.
Love is my responsibility.
© Bob Randall & Christine Morrison 2012