The Narrabri Shire Youth Art and Culture Banners were unveiled on Wednesday, 2 June 2021 as part of Narrabri Shire Council’s official 2021 Reconciliation Week celebrations.
The unveiling of the banners held behind The Crossing Theatre in Narrabri, included a performance by the Kamilaroi Dance Group, the singing of We Are One in language and a traditional smoking ceremony. The creation of the banners has been a collaboration between Council, all schools in Narrabri Shire and Zest Events International.
The Gamilaroi Stories project began last October with community consultation conducted by Zest’s MD Andi Mether and Jane Linehan, Community Services Manager from Narrabri Shire Council. Discussions were held with Aboriginal Land Councils, School Principals, Aboriginal Education Officers and Clontarf Foundation.
The original idea was for local Aboriginal stories to be shared and flags created at public workshops, to fly through the main streets of Narrabri, Wee Waa and Boggabri. We had to establish who was going to participate, were our program ideas acceptable to the community, who would share Gamilaroi stories, what type of stories should be shared, and should the program be open to indigenous and non-indigenous people.
“It wasn’t an easy task, said Andi Mether, Chief ARTchitect at Zest Events International, ‘the plan we had in the beginning was entirely different – which shows why community consultation is so important. Our job is to listen, find common ground and then adapt the program.”
Based on feedback we received Zest developed primary and high school workshop programs. We worked with Council to engage local Aboriginal Education Officers and leaders in the Indigenous community to help facilitate the program in all 14 schools across the Shire. The primary school program was open to all students, the high school program to Aboriginal students. The involvement of Aboriginal elders and youth leaders proved very exciting and helped us deliver Council’s vision to increase and share knowledge of Gamilaroi culture and build pride and connection to Country.
Visitors to Narrabri can find out more about our program and Gamilaroi culture at the Visitors Information Centre.
Primary Schools share river stories
The main point of connection between the 12 schools in the area is the river.
Gamilaroi youth leader Cliffy Toomey, was engaged to create the design of the river and water holes to flow through the primary school flags. On each flag the river and water holes are positioned as they relate to each town. Cliffy used Gomeroi linework with dark blue and light blue shading, the yellow ochre background colour represents the ground in the Gomeroi area.
“The river’s the main connection to all people in the Gomeroi nation. On each flag the river is on different sides, that represents the river as it goes around the town”, explained Cliffy Toomey, young AEO at Narrabri High from Wee Waa.
Primary school children created their own individual artworks, which Zest used to create individual feather banners for each school.
High Schools will wave their flags during NAIDOC Week
“It was such a great day, all the girls enjoyed listening to all the stories, especially Aunty Helen’s”, beamed student Lacey Evans from Wee Waa High School. “It really meant a lot hearing it from her and what she experienced, and we tried to incorporate that into our flag design. I’m really looking forward to seeing them fly high in the street so everyone can see them”.
Narrabri Shire will wave the Gamilaroi flags high and proud during NAIDOC Week (4 – 11 July) to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This project has been made possible thanks to funding from the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund.
Want to conduct a cultural collaboration project in your town? Need some advice from someone with experience in Indigenous consultation? Contact us to discuss your program!