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Celebrating Indigenous culture and heritage


A program to increase connection to and understanding of Indigenous culture and heritage has been a heart-warming and positive experience for all involved at St Michael’s College, according to facilitator Martin Pascoe.

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For the past three years Mr Pascoe has been working closely with the college’s primary campus through Catholic Education’s Aboriginal Cultural Residency (ACR) program.

As Artist in Residence, Mr Pascoe has mentored students from a range of year levels and cultural backgrounds in film making, media and drama, enabling them to explore issues such as identity, cultural awareness, resilience and overcoming adversity.

“This year our Year 4 students have been working with Martin for seven weeks on making films about themselves,” said Kate Tyrwhitt, Indigenous Focus teacher at St Michael’s.

“At the same time our Indigenous students have also had sessions which involve being together as a group, having a yarn, making artefacts and Aboriginal inspired artworks.

“One significant project has been making a site-specific Acknowledgement of Country video being read by our most senior student at the primary campus, Taj Trask.”

Mr Pascoe said Taj, of the Narungga Nation, was a shining example of how the ACR program has helped students connect with their heritage and culture.

“St Michael’s is one of the many Catholic schools that has an ongoing respectful relationship with Indigenous Artists in Residence, so when I see young fellas like Taj so proud of their lived culture and heritage I know the future is in very safe hands,” he said.

“St Michael’s has been consistent in its commitment to the ACR program and the fact that they are encouraging Indigenous students to maintain pride in their past, present and ultimate future is nothing but positive and I believe such a strong attitude to have.”

Coming from the Arrernte-Luritja-Warramunga First Nations in the Northern Territory, Mr Pascoe has lived on the lands of the Kaurna people for more than 50 years since he was brought to SA as one of the Stolen Generations.

“My life has been a positive one of survival and resilience and that’s what I bring to any place I go into,” he reflected.

“I was placed into a Catholic family at Port Noarlunga living on the banks of the Onkaparinga River and went to St John the Apostle and then both Sacred Heart College campuses, but I was always going to meet up with my Aboriginal families which I did at a very young age.

“I believe my Catholic school upbringing allows me to have an added understanding of what it means to be an Aboriginal student in a school.”

Developed by the Catholic Education Office’s ATSI team, the ACR program aims to forge relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

Since 2016 Mr Pascoe has delivered Art in Residency programs at more than 40 Catholic schools in the metropolitan area.


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