Indigenous consultant, publisher and author Faith Baisden has been working for nearly twenty years on Indigenous language projects at a community level as well as for state and national policy. Last year, she travelled with a small field group to Wilcannia to conduct some music literacy workshops and was inspired to write a children’s book using the local Paakantji language. Working with the local Language & Culture Officer, Murray Butcher, Faith developed My Mara Love to Clap which introduces Paakantji words alongside English text.
At the end of April, Faith travelled to Menindee Central School and to St Therese’s School in Wilcannia to launch her book and to do workshops with local children. During the workshops children as young as five were introduced to Paakantji words that described parts of the body in a song format and joined Faith, singing, clapping and stomping along.
At Menindee Central School, workshops were facilitated by the local Indigenous Language teacher, Kaylene Kirwan and Robert Lyndsay. At St Therese's Community School in Wilcannia, Murray Butcher introduced the children to the book and words and said it made him proud to see a book in Paakantji language. At the community lunch which followed the workshop, the book was launched by local Mayor Paul Brown and Murray Butcher said it was important for the kids to have a book with their own language and how important it was for their sense of identity and to make them feel proud of their culture.
"The work of the ILF is making a real difference to the children and their connection to learning. It gives children a chance to have fun with their language and connects them with the knowledge of their elders”, Faith said.