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An indigenous group of students at Catherine McAuley Westmead, known as the Strong Sisters, has coordinated the school’s activities during Reconciliation Week.

This group of 17 students spoke at a recent school assembly about Reconciliation Week and explained why it is important. They also visited the nearby Mother Teresa Primary School and spoke again to the primary students about what it means to be indigenous and why Reconciliation Week matters.

“To me Reconciliation Week is important because it is reminding us what has happened in the past and acknowledges the apology made by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd”, says Allira, a Year 9 Strong Sisters member. “Reconciliation Week is not just another date on the calendar but a week where we remember the stolen generation and the abuse which has happened to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”.

Every morning during Reconciliation Week students from Catherine McAuley and Mother Teresa Primary School are joining together to create a sea of hands along the Catherine McAuley school hockey fields. Students from both schools have cut out cardboard hands and written a personal message of support for reconciliation, rights, equity and justice. The students are planting these hands along the field.

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2021seaofhandsSea of Hands

“Seeing everyone write something on their hands has motivated me to actually do what is written. We should put our words into action”, says Year 11 student Naveena. “The Sea of Hands represents solidarity as a community who speaks out for justice”, says Sheryn, Year 11. “We should accept our faults and become better”.

Ms Fiona Stewart-Sandeman, Coordinator of Strong Sisters, says the activities during Reconciliation Week have been quite an eye opener for many students. “It has been a learning experience for many students who were not aware of the treatment of indigenous Australians. The Strong Sisters Group aims to promote awareness of these issues within the school community and to give them a voice. One of the most rewarding aspects of Strong Sisters has been to see younger students join the group often as a shy and quiet student to then become someone with confidence who can speak about the issues that matter to them and who have become leaders”.

Catherine McAuley and Mother Teresa students will continue to plant their hands for the rest of the week. The ‘Sea of Hands’ will remain in place until mid June.

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Written By

Jacqui Hamilton | School Development Officer

Jacqui Hamilton | School Development Officer
Catherine McAuley Westmead

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