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Students learn about Torres Strait / Zenadth Kes culture at Festival of Light commemoration

Giovanni Torre -

Torres Strait Islander Elders expressed amazement and gratitude towards staff and students at St Finbar's Primary Glenbrook after the Blue Mountains school hosted their annual The Coming of the Light event which commemorates the arrival of Christianity to the islands (Zenadth Kes) in 1871.

Having joined the school's celebrations via Zoom in 2022, Elder Aunty Thelma Quartey was "thrilled" to be able to attend in person this year and was impressed by the engagement of students learning about Torres Strait Islander culture.

St Finbar's said this year's celebration was extra special with Aunty Thelma speaking with different year groups and students enjoying interactive lessons and activities learning about the people and history of the Torres Strait.

"It was really lovely engaging with the students and being able to respond to their questions," said Aunty Thelma.

"I really enjoy passing on my knowledge and my story, especially to children.

"It blew me away how this little school in the Blue Mountains is celebrating this very important festival. I'm not aware of any other schools in Australia that do this. I spoke to my community, including many elders, and we were all so impressed that St Finbar's celebrated The Coming of the Light."

Year 6 student Ashton De Vincentis said: "I loved that Aunty Themla was able to come because the last time we had to do it via Zoom and it wasn't as interactive and fun."

Along with the lessons, students took part in activities such as basket and jewellery weaving, boab tree watercolour painting, creating traditional Dahri headdress and rain sticks, damper cooking and playing traditional drums.

Through the lessons, students learnt about who the Torres Strait Islanders are, where the Islands are located, what The Coming of the Light means and how it is celebrated.

Year 6 student and Academic Leader Mali Capuya said: "I found it was really interesting to learn that when the people of the Torres Strait Islands took things from the environment they always used everything and never put anything to waste."

Aunty Thelma said it was "really wonderful" to see the students engaged with all the activities.

"I love that the things they learnt really resonated with them," she said.

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