Walking together

THE development of relationships with this nation's original inhabitants requires all of us to come to terms with our history.

Gannawarra deputy mayor, Cr Charlie Gillingham, left, Koori elder, Aunty Shirley McGee and shire chief executive officer, Tom O'Reilly lead the reconciliation walk.

Gannawarra deputy mayor, Cr Charlie Gillingham, left, Koori elder, Aunty Shirley McGee and shire chief executive officer, Tom O'Reilly lead the reconciliation walk.

Gannawarra deputy mayor, Cr Charlie Gillingham said that the recognition of our history was necessary as we move towards a unified future in which we understand, value and respect each other.

Earlier, Cr Gillingham and indigenous elder, Aunty Shirley McGee led a walk through Kerang's shopping centre, a now annual ritual to mark National Reconciliation Week.

Aunty Shirley and the deputy mayor began proceedings by raising the Australian and Koori flags in front of the Memorial Municipal Chambers.

They led about 50 children and adults on a walk from Victoria Square via Northern District Community Health and the Mallee District Aboriginal Service to the Memorial Hall.

Proud local descendant of the Barappa Barappa people, Hack Webster provided the Welcome to Country.

"On behalf of the Barappa people, I would like offer you all a warm and positive Welcome to Country and trust reconciliation continues to strengthen between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-indigenous people for the benefit of all Australians," he said.

Mr Webster explained that the Barappa peoples' totem is Wirambi the bat, who symbolises the end of something old and the beginning of something new.

"Like Bunjil the eagle creator, they both fly over us protecting all that they see," he said.

Mr Webster also conducted the smoking ceremony, a tradition spanning thousands of years that is used to welcome visitors, to cleanse and to ward off unwanted and bad spirits.

Master indigenous story teller, Ron Murray provided a tribute to elder Aunty Phoebe Nicholson who died recently and told two Dreamtime stories, one about dying and another about how the green tree frog was only able to croak.

He also provided didgeridoo music to accompany a dance move by the Tyipen Kwe children's group.

Touching on the National Reconciliation Week theme, Grounded in Truth – Walk Together In Courage – Cr Gillingham said that whether it was engaging in challenging conversations or unlearning and relearning what you know, this journey requires us to walk together with courage.

Barappa Barappa descendant Hack Webster performed the Welcome to Country and the smoking ceremony.

Barappa Barappa descendant Hack Webster performed the Welcome to Country and the smoking ceremony.

The Tyipen Kwe students and Uncle Lloyd Murray act out a traditional story.

The Tyipen Kwe students and Uncle Lloyd Murray act out a traditional story.

Renowned Koori story-teller Uncle Ron Murray also performed with the didgeridoo.

Renowned Koori story-teller Uncle Ron Murray also performed with the didgeridoo.

Leading Senior Constable Dale Petri participated in the smoking ceremony.

Leading Senior Constable Dale Petri participated in the smoking ceremony.

Local students participated.

Local students participated.

Local students participated.

Local students participated.

Local students participated.

Local students participated.

Barappa Barappa descendant Hack Webster performed the Welcome to Country and the smoking ceremony.

Barappa Barappa descendant Hack Webster performed the Welcome to Country and the smoking ceremony.

Gannawarra deputy mayor, Cr Charlie Gillingham, left, Koori elder, Aunty Shirley McGee and shire CEO, Tom O'Reilly led the reconciliation walk.

Gannawarra deputy mayor, Cr Charlie Gillingham, left, Koori elder, Aunty Shirley McGee and shire CEO, Tom O'Reilly led the reconciliation walk.

Koori elder, Aunty Shirley McGee and deputy mayor, Cr Charlie Gillingham raised the Aboriginal flag. Pictures: KEN JENKINS.

Koori elder, Aunty Shirley McGee and deputy mayor, Cr Charlie Gillingham raised the Aboriginal flag. Pictures: KEN JENKINS.