The relationship between First Nations people and their ancestral lands and seas is something that has always been so beautiful to me. Colonisation and their loss of land rights has hurt this relationship and their right to sustain and care for country. This is one reason why Under the Rainbow Family Day Care do our best to care and respect country by embedding Indigenous perspectives.
Our Family Daycare is right next to a beautiful nature reserve on Nugnnawal Country and we go on adventures every week. The children splash in puddles, climb trees and rocky waterways and confidently explore unbeaten tracks. The children enjoy moments of mindfulness by sitting and listening to the beauty around us. When we are there, I can’t help but think of all the children that played there before them.
Naturally, the children are curious about the changes they see on the land. They notice fallen trees, new baby birds, flowers blooming, ice on the hills, the sound of frogs and the steam from their breath. The Indigenous practice of reading the land to know what is coming next is something the children observe in their own way and speak about during our explorations.
To give back to the land that gives us so much, we signed up to be volunteers for Land Care. Before we started this journey together, I volunteered with conservation groups and joined learning circles with Ngunnawal Elders. This helped me get a better understanding of the right and respectful way to care for country and what I could teach the children.
In the reserve we pick up lots of rubbish and pull-out invasive plants. This helps the native plants and the animals thrive. We forage for berries to eat, leaves for tea and flowers for craft with help from the Ngunnawal plant use book. This book shows us how the plants were and still are used by First Nations people. We always remember to take what we need and nothing more, which is something we learnt from the Ngunnawal people. Through the years I have seen the children develop a respectful appreciation for all animals and plants.
At the end of our adventures, we thank the land for all it has taught us. We promise to look after it the best we can. We thank and pay our respects to the Nugnnawal people, past, present and emerging. Our group is only small, but our hearts are big and so is our commitment to learning, listening and embedding Indigenous perspectives.