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La Salle College on the Derbarl Yerrigan

22 April 2024

The collective effort of La Salle College students and staff over three years, has produced an artwork that represents the school’s proud history. 

Titled ‘La Salle College on the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River),’ La Salle Aboriginal Education Assistant Bethany Farmer said the painting was born from a need to provide strong pastoral care opportunities for Aboriginal students. 

“The painting was developed for a pastoral care project like art therapy for the senior students and it was designed where anyone can have an input. Even those with no art ethnic still had confidence to participate and felt a part of the project. This project attracted staff and students to partake in it and that helped break down barriers.”

“Connecting and helping kids get to know one another, learning more about where they come from and being open about their culture has been a wonderful outcome of this project.

“Many students and staff have also told me they found the process of painting restorative – as they were focussed, present, calm, sort of like art therapy.”

Ms Farmer added that painting in a group created a safe yarning space for students and staff to listen, share and respectfully learn from one another.

“Through this painting project I also watched some of our students step up and show leadership which as an educator makes me incredibly proud.”

Year 10 student artists Christina and Nickaiwah spoke about their experiences.

“Being a part of this project has helped me feel more connected with my culture and makes me feel proud about my Aboriginal identity,” Christina said.

“I was involved in drawing the outline of the La Salle star and doing this helped me feel proud of my school and connected to my culture and surrounding lands.”

“Spending time with other students made me feel happy because it broke down barriers and I felt a stronger connection with my friends and teachers. It was great to paint and talk about culture, nature and the respect we have for these things.”

Echoing similar sentiments Nickaiwah added, “I was involved in most of the dot work on the painting and Ms Farmer guided us with the bright colour scheme.”

“I am extremely happy with the painting and loved how I felt when I was creating the dots.”

“I am excited to know it will be hung in our iCentre so we can share it with the school community and we can all feel connected to culture and being a Lasallian.”

Principal Giovanna Fiume said it was important to “not only find creative ways to ‘hear’ our students’ voices but to ensure students gain a deeper understanding of each other’s story – an essential Catholic and Lasallian principle.”

CEWA Stories 15 April 2024.

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