Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Gizelle Ghidella

THIS week’s open­ing of Naidoc week in the Dou­glas Shire was full of pride and emo­tion.

For in­dige­nous el­der, Jan­ice Walker, Naidoc week is ex­tremely spe­cial.

“This is when our com­mu­nity, the Kuku Yalanji peo­ple, can come alive and show who they are and shine,” she said.

“They should know that they can be all the more proud dur­ing this one week.

“We don’t want to have to wait for Naidoc to spread the word about who we are, it should be ev­ery day of the year be­cause Yalanji peo­ple have a lot to of­fer.”

In­dige­nous stu­dent leader from Moss­man State High School, Len­nox Scho­nen­berger, said this year’s Naidoc theme, “Our Lan­guage Mat­ters”, res­onated with him.

“It fo­cuses on the im­por­tance, re­silience and rich­ness of Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der lan­guages,” he said.

“The theme aims to em­pha­sise and cel­e­brate the es­sen­tial role in­dige­nous lan­guages play in cul­tural iden­tity, link­ing peo­ple to land, wa­ter and spir­i­tu­al­ity through sto­ries and song. Our el­ders are the keep­ers of the land and lan­guage and we look to you for your guid­ance and wis­dom to keep our lan­guage alive.

“As a young Kuku Yalanji per­son I un­der­stand it will be my gen­er­a­tion who will be re­spon­si­ble for pro­tect­ing and keep­ing my peo­ple’s lan­guage and cul­ture alive for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

The Kuku Yalanji “early read­ers” books cre­ated by the Mu­ruku Group are now avail­able for pur­chase, to help chil­dren learn the ba­sics of the lan­guage.

In­dige­nous artist Lenice Scho­nen­berger and girls from Moss­man State High School per­form­ing "I am Aus­tralian" in the Kuku Yalanji tongue.

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