More than words. Reconciliation and Care for the Earth.Both Take Action.
Loreto Coorparoo stands on the lands of the Turrbal and Jagera people. Like all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations, these people cared for the land and water they knew as Meanjin (Mee-an-jin) for thousands of years. Each year we mark National Reconciliation Week and Environment Week at the school but this year, the two weeks overlapped. It became apparent to the student leaders that these two events occurring simultaneously was an opportunity.
In many ways, these two events intertwine. They are tied to us as Australians because of the significance, relationships and history based on this native land. The essence of National Reconciliation Week is focused on learning about our rich culture and history of our land, and most importantly, joining together to appreciate and reconcile the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. On the other hand, at the core of World Environment Week is strengthening our connection with nature to ensure a sustainable future.
Over the past few weeks, I encouraged myself to learn more about the Indigenous connection between culture and land. I discovered that there is no simple answer. Land is more than just physical terrain; it is a living system that guides culturally and spiritually, whilst also connecting family and identity. For over 65,000 years, Indigenous people have sustained the environment through a sacred relationship of respect and care. In speaking with the Mission Council, it became clear for the Environment Council that it is also at the heart of what it is to be Catholic. So we based our activities on what was common in these two weeks – care for the environment.
It is no secret that we are in an ecological and climate crisis and that sadly, this is a result of human activity. In his encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis tells us that The ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion…Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.I have learned that, by shifting our view of land simply from something that we own, to an intricate and complex system that sustains life and carries humanity’s many stories, we can grow to appreciate our environment more consciously in our everyday lives.
Combining these two events has provided us with a newfound appreciation of our land that has been nurtured for thousands of years by our Indigenous elders. Proceeds from the week will go to an Indigenous Youth Climate network called SEED mob.
Author: Charli Kelley, Year 12 student and Environment Student Council Leader, Loreto Coorparoo.
Feature Image: Banner-hand painted by students – eucalyptus tree with the leaves painted in red, yellow and black to represent the Aboriginal Flag