Baraya Barray - Whale Song Launches

Red Room Poetry news

"Burri burri tulgul

carry our gali

our yabun

our songlines"

Baraya Barray (Sing Country) - Whale Song

A new intergenerational First Nations arts project following the East coast whale migration, connecting young people (yrs 3-12) with Elders through poetry, song and dance

Red Room Poetry is thrilled to launch Baraya Barray (Sing Country) - Whale Song, a ground-breaking, three-year program for First Nations school children and communities, interweaving language, Country, culture and art as part of our established Poetry in First Languages program.

Baraya Barray (Sing Country - in Gatthang language) is a First Nations cultural immersion project celebrating language through the creation of poetry, song and dance, listening and learning from our original language holders following migration routes, songlines and connection of species and communities across the country.

Coinciding with the International Decade of Indigenous Languages and the International Decade of Oceans, this iteration of the project will run for three years engaging young people along the Humpback Whale path of the East coast.

Using poetry as a springboard to explore First Nations knowledge, culture, language, songline continuation and environmental education, celebrating saltwater songlines working with east-coast communities, Baraya Barray - Whale Song follows the migration of humpback whales between Lutruwita (TAS) and the Bundjalung & Yugambeh (QLD) coast.

This innovative intergenerational program will introduce First Nations children to their Traditional language and cultural stories, learning from, and connecting to Community Elders and Custodians, First Nations artists, scientists and conservationists in on-Country face-to-face workshops. These knowledge holders will pass on whale songline, encouraging their young people to keep it alive through contemporary interpretations.

During each community three-day workshop, participants will respond to cultural learnings by creating new poetry, songs and dances in Language. Participants will learn about whales, ecological pressures, and sea Country health, further embedding engagement in caring for Country, highlighting the urgent challenges of climate change.

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Baraya Barray - Whale Song Pilot Workshop, Dharawal Country, June 2023

A curriculum aligned resource will be made available online through the Red Room Website at the conclusion of the 2024 workshops, for use by all students, in primary and secondary classrooms.

Poetry, from a First Nations perspective, is in everything - a beautiful sunrise, a mountain ridgeline, the lapping of water. It is song, dance, the sharing of story and the practice of culture. It's in relationships - those we have with each other and with mother earth and her kin - our kin. Learning and responding to the world around us in this way, runs in our blood and we have much to gain from listening deeply to our environment in understanding what she needs and how to care for her. As language comes from Country it is vital that we connect and listen to Country in our reconnection and revitalisation and celebrate and honour this through story, poetry, song and dance

~ Nicole Smede, Artistic Director - First Nations, Red Room Poetry.

I am excited that Baraya Barray - Whale Song will inspire young minds through Eldership, poetry, song, dance and Aboriginal languages to re-awaken our ancient whale song line and improve language acquisition, leaving a valuable strength in the community whilst restoring Eldership, a voice for Sea Country and a rite of passage through Cultural connections to Sea Country.

~ Dr Jodi Edwards (Custodian)

There is a real thirst and hunger to be taught and to learn in this way and it's a treat to be able to run a program like this and get our kids out and connected to Country, learning about language and carrying the stories and songlines forward… across the day you see a kind of pride that starts to bubble in them, they stand a bit taller and they speak a bit louder and more confidently. Our kids are feeling connected, not only to the land and to nature but to each other. They feel strong and proud of who they are.

~ Kirli Saunders, OAM (Poet, and First Nations Wisdom Circle Artistic/Poetic Mentor)

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Baraya Barray - Whale Song Pilot Workshop, Dharawal Country, June 2023

Workshops in 2024 will be held on Yuin, Wodi Wodi, and Dharawal Country in Nowra, Shellharbour, Port Kembla and Wollongong during the northern humpback whale migration from May to July 2024

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Jacob Morris, Custodian, Baraya Barray - Whale Song Pilot Workshop, Dharawal Country, June 2023.

Baraya Barray - Whale Song is the first 3-year cycle in the ground breaking new series of Poetry in First Languages - Baraya Barray (Sing Country), a First Nations led language and poetry program that honours our original language holders and songlines, and the connection of communities to Country across the continent. The program will follow songlines and migration routes across Country, focusing on different stories, kin, and language groups, working closely with different communities and knowledge holders over time. Commencing with the Humpback Whale movements up the East Coast from 2024 - 2026, our vision for the program is to journey inland to fresh water systems, mountain ridges and desert communities over the next decade.

Baraya Barray - Whale Song is made possible by very generous support from the Oranges & Sardines Foundation, and from a cohort of partners including Miromaa, Wollongong University - ANCORS Division, Wollongong City Council, Waminda, Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation and Griffith University.

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