On Wednesday, August 3rd, Woolyungah Indigenous Centre [WIC] hosted a traditional smoking ceremony. The Ceremony was led by Elders Uncle Peter Button and Aunty Joyce Donovan. Admiration emanated from Aunty Joyce’s words as she informed students of the history and battle to establish WIC at the University of Wollongong. It was a silent moment of reflection, contemplation and solitude for students to sit, listen and admire the stories and cultural history spoken by Elders.
Uncle Peter Button, a very humble and proud Aboriginal Elder believes Woolyungah is a place where all cultures embrace the shared passion for inclusive higher education. “We need our people with the knowledge, the skills, to be able to make change in white society; and to help non-Aboriginal people understand Aboriginal culture and heritage properly, so that we can have an understanding”.
During the ceremony each student took their shoes off and walked in single file to lay gum branches in the fire. Students were then softly brushed with branches from the same tree by the mentors, and invited into the smoke and fire of the ceremony. Through the beautiful scent of leaves the smoking ceremony created a time of cleansing and connection for all students, staff and community.
A spiritual sense of community closeness enveloped Woolyungah Indigenous Centre during the smoking ceremony, accentuating the inspiring words of the Elders. The embers and smell of the fire produced a cleansing feeling that reminded us all to remember the true history of the original custodians of the land we walk and study on.