Each year since 2018, hundreds of students from local primary schools have come together at Mater Dei College in Edgewater for the Whadjuk Gift – a reconciliation initiative combining sport, creative design and culture.
In 2021, Year 5 students from seven Catholic primary schools and two public schools participated in the Gift, competing in a round robin schedule of events including relays and sprints, and a closing ceremony.
In the lead up to the day, students and educators researched the histories, languages and cultures of Aboriginal nations, with the aim of designing a t-shirt to represent a nation they would represent in the sporting aspect of the event.
Schools have also used the process as an opportunity establish and strengthen relationships with local Aboriginal community members.
“Our wonderful Head of Creative Technologies, Mr Toby Hurd, is the designer, the author and also the coordinator of this initiative that is growing every year and this year is our biggest yet,” said Mater Dei Principal, Mrs Annette Morey.
“The purpose behind Whadjuk Gift is to instill a love of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations, and to celebrate and to see Aboriginal culture as a gift to this country and our communities here,” Mr Hurd said.
“Our focus is to energise and to create visual displays, art and cultural activities that are fun and immersive,
“This event has the potential to spread across the whole country, as the model can be replicated anywhere,” he said.
The t-shirt designs are central to the project, and more than 500 students have created a design representing the knowledge they have gained about an Aboriginal nation.
The 2021 Whadjuk Gift also saw the return of mascots introduced in 2020 – Harvey Hawk and Wally Whadjuk.
Mater Dei Sports Coordinator and AFLW player Parris Laurie, and PE Teacher Jordan Webster braved the mascot suits despite the 38-degree heat, further animating the event-day atmosphere.