Four talented musicians have come together for Singing from Country, a project that aims to create music that connects people to place. Neil Murray, Kavisha Mazzella, Carl Pannuzzo and Eva Popov are the songwriters that will participate in the program where they will learn about the role of the Dja Dja Wurrung language in connecting to place, people and seasons. VACL has been involved in the Singing from Country project through linking participants to local community to provide knowledge to songwriters and through giving cultural guidance. VACL’s Executive Officer Paul Paton spoke about the importance of this project that connects language and song, “Victoria’s Aboriginal Languages reflect a deep connection to the land, providing us wisdom about how to care for it.” VACL’s Community Linguist, Kris Eira and Dja Dja Wurrung woman Rebecca Philips facilitated workshops about aspects of knowledge and language.
This is the first stage of the project, which will eventually expand across Victoria. “Music is a universal language. It tells stories. It helps communicate love for land, deepen knowledge of country and strengthen community. People singing together about country is a powerful force for uniting and galvanizing action” said Terry White, the project’s creator. This October a community gathering will provide the opportunity to share the wisdom of key knowledge holders and hear from the community where all interested community members, both from within the region and outside, are welcome to attend. The gathering will include a showcase concert where the four songwriters will unveil their songs. Local choir-leaders will then arrange and rehearse the new songs with their singing groups, culminating in a performance of the songs by choirs in a celebratory event as part of Castlemaine State Festival in March 2017.
Singing from Country launches with a Workshop and Concert as part of the 2016 Maldon Folk Festival, October 29th 2016
On the 5th of October the fourth annual Tanderrum Ceremony took place at Federation Square. This ceremony is a traditional Eastern Kulin gathering comprising of 5 language groups, Woiwurrung (Wurundjeri), Boon wurrung, Taungurung, Dja Dja wurrung and Wathaurong. VACL assisted with extra support in language translations, pronunciation for each of the language groups, as well as the recorded voiceover component. VACL staff who are part of the Kulin Nation also participated in the ceremony.
In Tanderrum, the lore of the creator spirit Bunjil is acknowledged and the vibrant living culture of this country is celebrated. Tanderrum is significant as the ceremony wasn’t practiced in Melbourne between 1835 and 2013. Now every year the different groups of the Kulin nation meet to practise in the months leading up to the ceremony where the hours of work are well and truly evident in this outstanding event. Tanderrum attracts thousands of people to witness the rich linguistic and cultural knowledge of the people of the Kulin Nation in the combination of traditional songs, dances and ceremony.
To see more images from Tanderrum click here
To watch a video from the making of Tanderrum click here
Last week VACL hosted a language networking event Dhumba-djerring (talk together, from the Boonwurrung language) in Fitzroy. Language workers from across Victoria gathered over two days to participate in workshops and discussions and to share their experiences of awakening language in their communities and schools. It was positive to see young people and some new faces at this event as more and more people gain confidence and interest in our languages. Among the presentations were Brendan Kennedy's lesson on morphology, Aunty Doris Paton speaking about policies and strategies which have shaped the teaching of language in schools, Harley-Dunolly-Lee sharing his experiences of working with the Dja Dja Wurrung on sounds and spellings, Kris Eira on the issues and considerations when creating community dictionaries and Jenny Gibson who introduced the group to VACL's presence on Victorian Collections online. On the Thursday evening Paul Paton, Mandy Nicholson and Joel Wright took part in a panel discussion with Gregory Phillips to a packed audience at the Wheeler Centre.
Scroll down to see a video and images from Dhumba-djerring
For information on upcoming VACL presentations Reawakenings: the revival of Victorian Aboriginal languages click here
On the 1st of February Harley Dunolly-Lee commenced an internship that had been advertised by VACL. With the support of CEO Rodney Carter at Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Harley’s application was successful. This internship opportunity had been advertised to a maximum of four individuals who are identified to have come from a traditional owner group of Victoria. This internship can be a maximum of two to four weeks.
During this period, the intern will work with different staff members of VACL to experience and assist in a range of different activities that support language revival. It is intended that the skills obtained during the internship will be used back in their own community to support language activities. Depending on the skills and interests of the intern and the current activities of our organisation at the time of the internship, activities may include, but are not limited to:
• Assisting existing community projects
• Preparing workshop materials for teaching language
• Updating the library catalogue
• Researching materials in our library
• Collating/recording materials into a language database
• Editing recordings and/or publications
• Updating our website and/or social media
• Attend local school language program
• Receive specialist training (linguistic) from VACL Staff
Age 25, Harley has been learning the Dja Dja Wurrung language since he was 16 with assistance from local Aboriginal community members in Bendigo such as Aunty Sue Allengame, Uncle Brian Nelson, Aunty Justice Nelson and Uncle Sam Kerr. He has also been given help and assistance with linguistics prior to University by academic linguists such as Dr Julie Reid, Professor Barry Blake and Dr Kris Eira (who is the linguist at VACL). When he was 16 he had asked his mother and grandmother if they knew any words passed down by his grandfather. They only gave him a couple words which where only rude words or words for spirits. This led him to learn the language.
Eventually Harley had devoted his studies to reclaim the Dja Dja Wurrung language which was the language that his grandfather’s ancestors had spoken fluently. Although, Harley does acknowledge his grandfather’s maternal ancestry that also links to Yorta Yorta/Bangerang, Mathi Mathi, Wadi Wadi and Taungurung. Harley solely identified with his grandfather’s paternal side which link to the Dja Dja Wurrung language group. This is because his last name ‘Dunolly’ originates from a town on Dja Dja Wurrung country where his ancestors had lived before European occupation. Through studying at Monash University, Harley hopes to use the tools gain from studying linguistics to create a community dictionary. Through working with VACL, Harley can also obtain other skills which will be used in his journey of language reclamation.