Uncle David Tournier has been involved in language all his life. His Country involves three places; Narrindjerri (Mothers side-Tateari Clan), Yorta Yorta (Birth Fathers side), Wathaurong (Great, Great, Great Grand Father).
Gobata! is the Wathaurong Language class Uncle David Tournier runs every Thursday. The class has a mix of people including school teachers, members of the Geelong One Fire Reconciliation Group, Aboriginal people and people from the Geelong community. Uncle David is keen to teach anyone who is interested and welcomes all to his classes.
Uncle David says that language is moving along well in Geelong, “people from the community are flooding in with language requests and various schools are screaming out for language.” He is thankful to be working closely with his daughter on language.
“My biggest worry is that when I retire who will continue my work? It’s so good that my daughter Myranda is taking on language responsibilities. We have always had keepers, the keeper of songs, of clapsticks, of stories, this hasn’t changed today and we need to continue that cultural way of doing things. I hope she can continue the language program” said Uncle David.
As well as the language program Uncle David works tirelessly on a range of other projects including handling community translation and naming requests, working with local artists on various projects, sharing knowledge out on country, re-telling creation stories in Wathaurong for upcoming publications and working on translations for the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) to assist in getting Wathaurong language into local school curriculums.
Uncle David is also working with the Wathaurong Children’s Choir whose members have developed their own song about the magpie. David is working on translating this song into Wathaurong which he will then teach to the children. The choir have also worked with primary school students to submit a song to the Marrin Gamu song competition hosted by First Languages Australia.
Wathaurong Language Classes run each Thursday from 11am – 12pm at the Wathaurong Co-operative in Geelong. These classes are open to anyone interested in learning language. To register your interest, call Meryl on 5277 0044.
For those interested in keeping up to date with Wathaurong language news, you can join Uncle David’s Language Clan group on Facebook
Learn more about Uncle David Tournier in this story Deadly Dad on the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative website
Watch this video of Uncle David reading Yengying Karroong
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