Gunaikurnai clan shields celebrated

Gunaikurnai clan shields celebrated

East Gippsland Specialist School celebrated the instalment of five Gunaikurnai clan shields in its quiet garden last Thursday.

Gunaikurnai people are the traditional owners of Gippsland and are made up of five major clans. Each of these clans – Brabralung (Central Gippsland, Mitchell, Nicholson and Tambo rivers; south to about Bairnsdale and Bruthen), Krauatungalung (Snowy River, Point Hicks to Lakes Entrance), Tatungalung (Lakes Entrance along 90 Mile Beach, Lakes Victoria and Wellington), Brayakaulung (around Sale) and Brataualung (South Gippsland) – is now represented by a shield in the school’s peaceful garden.

A smoking ceremony to cleanse and acknowledge the new area was conducted by Uncle Alfie Hudson with assistance from staff, students and family members.

Alfie’s niece, Lorraine Hood, and nephew, Keiran Walker, both students at the school, were among those assisting, Lorraine also opening the ceremony with a Welcome to Country. Alfie’s cousin, Uncle Keith Solomon, was also a part of the ceremony, playing the didgeridoo as Alfie passed through the gathering with the cleansing smoke.

Alfie explained the significance of the different branches that were used in the ceremony as students, staff and family members placed the leaves on the fire to produce the smoke.

“East Gippsland Specialist School is a culturally inclusive school and we are extremely grateful to have Elders in our community who celebrate and share their culture and knowledge with us,” assistant principal, Julie Backhouse, said.

PICTURED: Uncle Alfie Hudson performed a smoking ceremony with students, staff and family of East Gippsland Specialist School last Thursday to cleanse and acknowledge its new quiet area that has incorporated shields of the five Gunaikurnai clans.