By LIZ CUTTS
MORE than fifty indigenous women took time out in Baradine to share knowledge and cultural understanding.
Gomeroi/Gamilaroi women throughout NSW participated in the third traditional gathering, Yinarr Bawaa Guumaldana, held this year at Baradine’s Camp Cypress from 19 to 21 September.
The healing gathering invited women to return home and reconnect with each other, traditional country, traditions and lore.
Activities included star storytelling, weaving, water healing sessions, language sharing, jewellery making, art and dance.
Event organizer, Rosie Armstrong says the aim of the annual event is to bring women back to country to strengthen cultural expression and their spiritual connection to country.
‘The Gomeroi/Gamilaroi nation covers a large area so this is a great opportunity for women to come together to practice and preserve culture and ceremony,” Rosie said.
“There is a purpose to everything. The kangaroo bands and grass skirts we have made will be worn for the dance, even our jewellery is made from gum nuts; everything comes from country with permission from the traditional owners. It’s about giving back to them and country.”
Rosie says she has been guided by her ancestors and Elder’s to develop and deliver traditional cultural healing programs and services, which saw the foundations of Dhabiyaanbaa Maarumali, ‘place of quiet healing’ established and evolve over the years.
She says connections are the best healers.
“It is all about empowering women and communication is important in giving strength and support,” she said.
“It is all part of the healing process; there is strength in sisterhood and we also make use of technology to communicate these days.”.
Gathering participant, Jodie Choolburra said that traditional storytelling, songs and circle work help First Nation people deal with traumatic experiences.
“Our culture has evolved over the years and it is important to empower future generations and instil pride by passing on our skills and knowledge; you cannot get this through counselling services,” Jodie explained.
“We have women come to our gathering one year pregnant and then return the next year with the baby. We are breaking cycles and every year the gap is closing with the benefits trickling back to community. Everyone looks after everyone.
“We all have similar stories, we are all on our own journey, but everyone is included. We walk in two worlds that affect our decisions, but traditional food, healing and medicine work and we want to share these.
“We encourage our children to develop a strong cultural identity and learn how culture changes; it is vital, it is the essence of who we are.”