Saint Ignatius College Geelong

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    Sorry Day: Smoking Ceremony

    Article by Mr Paul Lewis

    Sorry Day: Smoking Ceremony

    On Thursday 24th May the school held it’s annual Sorry Day – Smoking Ceremony as our recognition of National Reconciliation Week (May 27 to June 3).

    The dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey – the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision. National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and to explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation effort.

    National Sorry Day is an annual event that has been held in Australia on 26 May, since 1998, to remember and commemorate the mistreatment of the country's Aboriginal People. During the 20th century, Australian government policies resulted in "Stolen Generations", described as "Aboriginal children separated, often forcibly, from their families in the interest of turning them into white Australians"

    So we gathered as a school community to recognise this and focus on reconciliation.

    We are extremely grateful to our guests for gifting us such a significant and moving ceremony.

    Norm Stanley and Nikki Mc Kenzie conducted the Welcome to Country and the Smoking Ceremony.

    Norm and Nikki shared their culture and history with us in such a powerful and meaningful way and we were so privileged to experience Norm’s fantastic didgeridoo playing.

    Susan Collins and Ricky Morris were our Guest speakers this year. Susan is a Koori worker in several Geelong Catholic schools and she was incredibly generous and courageous in telling us her very personal and emotional story of how she was part of the Stolen Generations. Her mother and grandmother were also stolen. The entire school community was effected by Susan’s story and her bravery in sharing it with us. Thank you Susan.

    Ricky is a Gunditjmarra man and now he lives in Melbourne where he runs his own plumbing business. Ricky served in the Australian Army with the Royal Australian Engineers and reached the rank of Sergeant. He served in Afghanistan in 2008-2009 and in East Timor in 1999-2000. Ricky’s family is a family of warriors and soldiers with the Lovett family (Fighting Gunditjmara), from the Lake Condah mission in the western districts of Victoria, having had more family members on active service in the military than any other Australian family.

    Our Year 9 Co-ordinator Ben Collyer closed the ceremony by reading a Prayer for the Stolen Generations:

    God of all creation,

    We thank you for this beautiful land,

    for the First Peoples you entrusted to care for it,

    for its wealth and many Second Peoples who have made it their home.

    Australia has been good to us.


    We ask now for this land that we will all be healed,

    For our ancestors made gains at the expense of the Aboriginal custodians.

    Lands were taken and families destroyed by removal of children.


    We pray for those who were taken,

    And those parents and grandparents whose arms lost little ones.

    We struggle to imagine how this would feel,

    and how it could have happened.


    For the pain and loss of identity and culture, we ask healing.

    For a callous disregard of human rights we ask forgiveness and healing.

    For willful blindness and ignorance we ask for your light to shine.

    For the descendants still affected by trans-generational trauma

    we ask for ongoing support systems, in the name of justice.


    May we all be one.    May we be a nation who cares for ‘the least of these’.


    Mr Paul Lewis  Deputy Principal [ Staff, Identity and Operations]

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