Blue Mountains culture inspires St Canice's students to learn more
14 Apr 2022
Students, staff and parents from St Canice's Primary Katoomba braved a chilly autumn morning recently to walk from school to Echo Point for a moving Three Sisters Immersion Experience, highlighting the importance of community, Aboriginal culture and caring for the Blue Mountains' world-class sites.
Despite waking to rain, wind and temperatures barely above zero, more than 30 students from Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 eagerly ventured out for the trek down Katoomba Street past locals enjoying their morning coffees and breakfast.
"It was really special walking down the main street and seeing the kids waving and saying hello to people," said principal Miriam Meaney.
"COVID has presented lots of challenges these past few years and one of the big things we've really missed is being able to head out as a group and represent St Canice's in the local community."
"This year's NAIDOC theme is 'Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!' so it was perfect to show we were prepared to brave the wind and cold, get out there and be active in making our connection with Indigenous culture real," said diversity teacher, Rosemary Gillespie.
"It's about making it something we live and engage with every day and St Canice's really has promoted that."
The long walk ended at Katoomba's world-famous Echo Point where Elders Uncle Chris Tobin and Aunty Carol started the immersion experience with a Smoking Ceremony before hosting a workshop about Aboriginal culture including explanations about the history and significance of the Three Sisters.
"We knew we were going down to a sacred space so we were really excited," said Year 6 student Ayla. "I think the smoking ceremony was really nice and I really enjoyed hearing Uncle Chris tell us about Aboriginal culture in the Blue Mountains."
"I thought it was really fun because it's been a long time since we've been able to do something like this and being able to share the experience with friends and learn about things together was great," said Year 6 student Eva.
Throughout the experience, students were able to enjoy the spectacular views of the Three Sisters which also happens to be the school's totem.
"Aunty Carol offered St Canice's the Three Sisters as our school totem back in 2015. Part of having a totem is the responsibility of being custodians so we're excited to get back to visit and take care of this beautiful sacred site," said Ms Gillespie.
The experience ended with students going on a short bushwalk, collecting rubbish on the way.
"It felt really good to understand that we're custodians and I like that adults feel we're responsible enough to care for these important places," said Eva.
Students are currently working on a project about the school's Three Sisters totem to be presented at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander State Catholic Education Conference which will be hosted in the Blue Mountains in October.
"We're so excited to welcome and educate other students from around New South Wales on what it means to support and promote Indigenous culture," said Ms Gillespie.
Assistant principal Coley White said he was "thrilled to see our students engage so well with what they were hearing from the Elders".
"For example, when we went for a bushwalk at the end, students noticed the plant that Aboriginal spears are made of and they remembered hearing how this plant thrives after fires because that is the way it replenishes.
"They understand that it's not a plant anymore. It serves a purpose and has a connection to life and survival, that's not something you can necessarily get from a textbook. To be able to live, breathe and step on the soil is so powerful and to have Aunty Carol and Uncle Chris share their experiences and wisdom was wonderful."
View and download photos from this event.
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