Celebrating Languages, Country and Elders this Indigenous Literacy Day

Celebrating Languages, Country and Elders this Indigenous Literacy Day

Every year Indigenous Literacy Day celebrates the Stories, Cultures and Languages of remote Indigenous Communities. 

This year’s Indigenous Literacy Day celebrations includes a 15-minute FILM followed by a 45-minute LIVESTREAM direct from the Sydney Opera House.

The FILM takes you on a virtual journey to three remote Indigenous Communities to celebrate the launch of three books in three different languages; Shordi Krik in Barunga, Northern Territory, Country Tells Us When… in Rubibi (Broome), Western Australia, and We Look, We Find in Weipa on the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. 

These stories showcase the richness and diversity of Indigenous storytelling, and cultures, teach language, and pay homage to Elders and Country. 

But what are these books about? And why are they important?

Life is sweet at Shordi Krik (Shorty Creek)

Written by students from the Barunga Remote Community School and supported by ILF Ambassador Justine Clarke, Shordi Krik shares the joy of being at a nearby creek (Shorty Creek) where the children play, swim, sing and speak in their First Language, Kriol.

Shordi Krik on Country at the Creek

Barunga is about a one hour drive from Katherine in the Northern Territory. It is a Community of around 300 people and the main language spoken is Kriol. ILF Lifetime Ambassador Justine Clarke has been working with the students at Barunga Remote Community School for seven years, sharing literacy through joyful songs every time she visits.

One year, students had been down at the creek with teacher, Charlotte, and upon returning wrote down what they had seen around them. Justine Clarke then helped them turn it into a song, Shordi Krik, which was recorded in 2022 and turned into a beautiful book in 2023!

Some of the Barunga Kids reading Shordi Krik

When asked what this book means to the Community, Barunga Remote Community School Principal, Malcolm, says “These students, the Barunga kids, are the most amazing young people that I have ever worked with. They have great spirit; they are wonderful thinkers. And we now have this magnificent book that has been produced with the support of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.”

You can listen to Shordi Krik song here

This book illustrates the joy of time spent together at Shordi Krik, the water, the rocks, trees and breeze and crayfish and the playful activities that ensue. It shares a special place in the children’s lives. Eight students from Barunga School will be flying down to Sydney for the Indigenous Literacy Day celebration and they can't wait! 

Respect for culture in Country Tells Us When…

“Us Yawuru mob, we don't have four seasons that are told to us by a calendar. We have six seasons and Country tells us when they have arrived by what we feel, see, taste, smell and hear.”

Country Tells Us When… is a story from the Yawuru Community in Rubibi (Broome) that explores the seasonal changes of the Kimberley. The story was created by educators from Cable Beach Primary School because they felt that there weren’t enough story and language resources like this for their children and Community. 

Country Tells Us When… on Country in Rubibi (Broome)

The book showcases Country, culture, respect for Elders, Yawuru language, and allows children to see their Country depicted in a story. 

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, connection to Language and Country is a deep and integral part of identity. It allows children to thrive. It is the continuation of thousands of generations of cultural knowledge. Country is a family member, someone you care for, and someone who cares for you. 

At Cable Beach Primary School, Yawuru language is incorporated into everything the students do. It is written all around the school, and all students learn it. 

Community and authors/illustrators at the Country Tells Us When… launch in Rubibi (Broome)

Educators and creators of the book, Dalisa, Tsheena, Sheree and Mary, are so proud of what they have created.

Dalisa explains, “I remember when the ILF and Alison Lester wrote a book about the Kunwinjku seasons because they also have six seasons in Arnhem land. For many years, I worked in that area and saw Alison in Community writing that book and I always thought wow - I wish we could do one like that one day in Broome.”

“I feel very proud to have been a part of this little book. I can finally say I have been part of a team of people that made that happen.”

We Look, We Find: Being on Country with Elders

From Napranum in Cape York, Queensland, We Look, We Find showcases what it means to be on Country with Elders. The book teaches children the importance of learning about Country and shares words in Thaynakwith language.

We Look, We Find on Country

This book is the first time that Thaynakwith language has been commercially published in a children’s book. The bright and joyful story was created by women and children from the Napranum Early Childhood Centre.

The Director of the Napranum Parents and Learning (PaL) group, Trish, says that children deserve to learn language.

“With the kids, learning language is their cultural right. It is their heritage to be exposed to their language and to know their language. If it is not spoken regularly, it then becomes lost. So to keep that language alive, and practised in children's books is one of the best ways to get it out there.”

Kids reading We Look, We Find in Weipa

The book was largely inspired by Elder Thaynakupi, a renowned ceramic artist, educator, linguist and Elder of the Napranum Community that helped establish the first preschool and was one of the first preschool teachers in Napranum. She taught the children that language is a part of you, and to be proud of your culture. 

The hope of the authors is that the children will learn more about Country, Elders, and know their language more confidently. Relena, Coordinator of the PaL program, also hopes that it will inspire a broader audience in Australia to learn more about Indigenous languages and cultures. 

ILF Board Member Leitha, ILF Staff members Cindy and Becc, and Napranum Community member

Celebrating story on Indigenous Literacy Day

Those participating in Indigenous Literacy Day 2023 will hear from the Communities where these books were created, gain a deeper appreciation for why and how they are used in their Community and learn more about Indigenous cultures. It's an engaging and joyful adventure for early learners, primary students and adults alike.

Celebrate First Nations peoples’ stories, cultures and languages and purchase your copies today! Via the ILF Bookshop.

And don’t forget to register for the FREE Indigenous Literacy Day 15 minute FILM, where you will learn how and where these gorgeous stories were created.

Helpful Resources

You might also be interested in

“Mela langguj- Our language, Kriol”

Educators create bilingual book about the seasonal changes of the Kimberley

First Commercial Children’s Picture Book Published featuring Thaynakwith Language

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Written by Ella Schofield

  • Posted 08 August, 2023

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