Kuku Yalanji for the young

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - CUL­TURE Gizelle Ghidella

THERE’S no lan­guage more im­por­tant than one’s own.

That’s why the Mu­ruku group at the Moss­man Com­mu­nity Cen­tre are cre­at­ing early learn­ing readers in the Kuku Yalanji lan­guage for chil­dren in Dou­glas Shire.

The books aim to teach chil­dren ba­sic sen­tences con­tain­ing of­ten used words, like num­bers, colours and an­i­mals, in the Yalanji lan­guage.

Ja­nine Pater­son, from the Mu­ruku group, was one of the fa­cil­i­ta­tors who de­cided to cre­ate th­ese books to fur­ther chil­dren’s learn­ing of the lan­guage.

“There are Yalanji classes but there’s no readers and con­se­quently peo­ple don’t learn com­plete sen­tences, so this is to im­prove Yalanji speak­ing,” said Ms Pater­son.

Joan Ford­ham is also help­ing out by lend­ing her com­puter skills to the project and she hopes lo­cal schools can in­tro­duce the books to class.

“I think if we get this in­tro­duced to preschools and pri­mary schools lo­cally where the lan­guage is im­por­tant that would be ab­so­lutely bril­liant,” Ms Ford­ham said.

Fiona Creek, one of the artists on the project, said she’s proud to see this book come out to teach her kids.

“It’s a very good idea to keep the lan­guage alive and pass it down to the younger ones. I’ve en­joyed mak­ing it too,” Ms Creek said.

All the words and phrases in the book are approved by the el­ders and Yalanji speak­ers.

The North Queens­land Re­gional Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion Lan­guage Cen­tre is col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Mu­ruku group and the Moss­man Com­mu­nity Cen­tre, who re­ceived $5000 in fund­ing from the Abo­rig­i­nal Ben­e­fits Foun­da­tion, a not for profit or­gan­i­sa­tion, to re­trieve, main­tain, pre­serve and pro­tect the lo­cal Kuku Yalanji lan­guage.

The pic­ture books are hand painted in­di­vid­u­ally with a to­tal of 52 im­ages.

Two of the books are hoped to be fin­ished by NAIDOC week start­ing July 10, fit­ting in with this year’s theme of “Our Lan­guages Mat­ter”.

Pic­ture: GIZELLE GHIDELLA

Fiona Creek, an il­lus­tra­tor of the books, painted her daugh­ter Shaona Solomon as one of the char­ac­ters

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