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Healing the land and people

Published 06 Jul 2021 by Bruce Hammond

Today, during NAIDOC Week, I acknowledge the many nations and communities across this country. I also acknowledge my strong connections to my ancestors from the southeast of South Australia and the Eastern Arrernte people of Central Australia.

Today, I want to talk to you about the resilience of country and how we as a community, live, work and engage in this space and I want to talk about healing country.

One of the things that comes to mind is kapi. Kapi is the Pitjantjatjara word for water.

When rain rolls in, kapi revitalises people and country. And whilst it can be short lived, both community and country take full advantage of what is offered. Even if it is rare and fleeting, our people enjoy kapi for the joyous resource it is. It is simply one of the joys of life.

Dormant seeds push up through country, coating the land in a whole range of colours. Rock holes and creeks begin to fill, supporting our native species. The sounds of active bird communities come alive. My ancestors travelled this landscape for thousands of years, and this soundtrack of country coming alive from kapi is part of a long history.

Kapi often determined community interaction, trade routes and safe passage for people while travelling. The sound of kapi is the sound of a vibrant native environment, and a sign of healthy country. Something that was, and continues to be, a part of our livelihood, our culture, our connection, our wellbeing.

As Bush Heritage's Healthy Landscape Manager for South Australia, I regularly witness changing and vibrant landscapes, like that of Bon Bon Reserve on Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara country and Boolcoomatta Reserve on Adnyamathanha, Ngadjuri and Wilyakali country. These lands never fail to impress me with their resilience and ability to make me smile.

When kapi arrives, people, energy and country bounce back from adversity, proving that with adversity comes opportunity.

While my people have weathered more than our fair share of the storm across our country, today, we continue this connection in the face of adversity. We continue to provide safe passage. Resiliently, we continue to heal country.

This NAIDOC Week, the First Nations Southeast community will be welcoming people from Bush Heritage to our lands and community to hold a smoking ceremony on the lands of our ancestors, Kungari Aboriginal Burial Ground, Kingston Southeast, South Australia. This area, whilst always important and significant to local First Nations Peoples, was used as the Kingston town dump and was barren and treeless when first returned to our mob.

With strong spirit and a lot of revegetation, we have returned it to a place of healing of both land and people. It is a place where we believe our ancestors are listening and participating in all that we do. And it is a place where we can come together in partnership over a shared passion for healthy landscapes and people.

Our shared passion for healthy landscapes and people is why we come together in partnership. A partnership built on equity, vitality, and sustainability.

Penny Bonney, John Hammond, Connie Bonney, Bruce Hammond, Robyn Campbell, Jack Campbell, Doug Nicholls welcome Bush Heritage to country for NAIDOC Week 2021. Penny Bonney, John Hammond, Connie Bonney, Bruce Hammond, Robyn Campbell, Jack Campbell, Doug Nicholls welcome Bush Heritage to country for NAIDOC Week 2021.
Connie and John at the Welcome to Country for Bush Heritage, NAIDOC Week 2021. Connie and John at the Welcome to Country for Bush Heritage, NAIDOC Week 2021.
Healthy Landscapes Manager Bruce Hammond. First Nations South East. Healthy Landscapes Manager Bruce Hammond. First Nations South East.
Aboriginal flag at Kungari Aboriginal Burial Ground, Kingston Southeast, South Australia. Aboriginal flag at Kungari Aboriginal Burial Ground, Kingston Southeast, South Australia.
First Nations South East people perform smoking ceremony for NAIDOC Week 2021 - Heal Country. First Nations South East people perform smoking ceremony for NAIDOC Week 2021 - Heal Country.
Doug, Connie and Jack at Welcome to Country during NAIDOC Week 2021. Doug, Connie and Jack at Welcome to Country during NAIDOC Week 2021.

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