A collection of stories from our First Nations' people

St Margaret’s has launched an original publication titled Gidhal: A collection of stories from our First Nations’ people, authored by the school’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Pronounced “Gi-darl”, the publication’s namesake means “stories” in Kala Lagaw Ya, a language from the Torres Strait, spoken by eight St Margaret’s students. And the publication is exactly that, a collection of stories and interviews told by St Margaret’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students past and present and their family members.

Gidhal pays respect to who we are and where we came from, bringing these stories to life for our entire St Margaret’s community, and is also a wonderful record for our students to access and learn from the stories of First Nations people.

The project was the result of an Innovation Grant awarded to secondary teachers Ms Margot Shave and Mr Noel Peinke in 2019. The impetus for the project was to harness the enormous potential of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to share their stories with the St Margaret’s community.

Ms Shave said: “As English teachers Noel and I firmly believe in the power of story to dispel misconceptions, share experiences and build reconciliation within the broader school community.

“As each student explored opportunities to represent their family and communities, we learned more about their remarkable backgrounds and were humbled by the breadth of talent in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families,” she said.

Students in Years 7 to 12 participated in the project, sharing recipes from treasured family cookbooks, photos from home, artworks from family members, personal reflections and profiles of Aboriginal activists.

Gidhal was officially launched to the school community on Tuesday 3 November at a dedicated assembly with each of the participating students receiving a certificate and copy of the book. The students were thrilled to see their hard work in print.

Aboriginal dance group Tribal Experiences, led by Shannon Ruska, performed a number of songs and dances from a collection of Aboriginal communities, to the delight of the audience, some of whom even joined in.

Among the special guests were Aboriginal elder and author Dr Ruth Hegarty and The Reverend Canon Bruce Boase who both spoke at the launch. Other special guests in attendance included Linda Barron from the State Library of Queensland, Aboriginal elder and activist Lesley Williams, Waverley Stanely and Llew Mullins from Yalari, and RoseMarie Kopp, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education at Independent Schools Queensland.