Photo: The Yakanarra crew at the NCIE.

The NCIE got to rub shoulders with some of the stars of this year’s Indigenous Literacy Day  when the students and staff from Yakanarra School stayed with us in early September.

The Yakanarra mob had travelled by bus for two days from their community in the South Kimberley on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert when they arrived at the NCIE.

They were in Sydney to launch their third book, Yakanarra Song Book, on Indigenous Literacy Day which is held in early September every year by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Photo: James Kellow ILF Board Member at the NCIE

The book was launched at the Opera House but on the night before the big launch the NCIE was treated to our own sneak preview of the book and a couple of the songs.

Video: Yakanarra kids singing Parnanykarti Marnalu Yani at the NCIE

The ten songs about country and cultural activities were written in Walmajarri mainly by Jessie Wamarla Moora and with other Walmajarri teachers and elders in the 1980s and 1990s to help the kids speak Walmajarri.

More recently, the ILF worked with Mary Purnjurr Vanbee and the Yakanarra children to write the four songs in English about Yakanarra. The children painted pictures to go with all of the songs in the book.

Acting Yakanarra School Principal, Helen Unwin spoke about the difference it makes when the children are able be proud and stand tall for their own language and culture.

“Without language, culture just doesn’t thrive,” she said.

“ILF books mean our children are able to grow up with doors opening into standard Australian English.”

“But to be able to proudly contribute their own language under the guidance of Jessie and Mary to an ILF book well, we don’t have the words in any language to be able say just how grateful we are for this and what a contribution this is for the community.”

Yakamarra Song Book follows the publication of Yakamarra Dogs and Yakamarra Day, and was one of four books (see picture below) launched on Indigenous Literacy Day 2017.