Elders walk on Wik Country with Aurukun youth

by | Jun 22, 2020 | Community News

Wik Elders will continue to take Aurukun’s young people on Country to learn about cultural practices with a program run by the Aurukun Indigenous Knowledge Centre (IKC) being extended into its third year.

Funded by the State Library of Queensland, Education Queensland and Aurukun Shire Council, the Walking on Wik Country – the Outdoor Living Classroom started in 2018 as part of the Flexi Program for disengaged youth and has expanded to include students at the Koolkan Aurukun State School.

Aurukun Shire Council Mayor Keri Tamwoy said the innovative program was using Western technology such as video to help maintain language, culture and knowledge about Country long after Western lifestyles had disrupted the transmission of traditional knowledge in Aurukun.

“Run by IKC Coordinator Noel Waterman, the Outdoor Living Classroom instils pride in both the community’s youth and their Elders who assist,” she said.

“Teacher aide Perry Yunkaporta has been an integral part of the program and his extensive knowledge of the Wik Mungkan language has been invaluable in helping our youth learn to read and write their first language.

“We have since seen more than a dozen Elders become involved by offering to share their knowledge of collecting plants, making dyes, carving canoes and weaving.

“Up to 12 Flexi School students have been attending the IKC to study maths, English, Wik Mungkan and participate in the Outdoor Living Classroom activities.

“Students at Koolkan are participating by sitting with Elders under the school’s mango trees to weave and dye pandanus leaves until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted to allow them to go on excursions.

“The lessons also include filming and post-production so the students can make their own videos.

“The IKC’s Woyan-Min Biocultural Project is part of the program and has produced videos showing traditional body paint, collecting pandanus, hunting mud crab, bush foods and bushfire management.

“These are shared on social media channels so Wik people outside Aurukun continue to learn traditional culture and language.”