I give thanks for the beauty and support of the land upon which I get to live, work and play— and support ways of conciliation by giving voice to my knowing of whose land I am on—the Indigenous people have been connected to Country for tens of thousands of years prior to colonisation.
There are communities of families, in and extended through many language groups whose history goes back before the white settlers arrived; with the animals, birds and other non-human beings and in connection to the land, air and water—all steeped in ancient stories, songs, ceremonies and customs. It is with gratitude and respect that I offer Acknowledgement of Country as part of my work and in other areas of my life.
I offer people wanting a ceremony the choice to include an Acknowledgement of Country. If they choose not to, I engage my own acknowledgement silently upon arrival.
As part of the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants National Conference this year, I spoke the following acknowledgements.
I took a breath and looked out to everyone in the conference and felt the support of the land beneath my feet and I connected with the breath in my body…
I’d like to acknowledge the land upon which I stand and speak… this beautiful place.
I shared the story of the landscape I witnessed as I flew into Adelaide—the dry plains, the streams, rivers, bodies of water, the hills, the green belt around the city and coming in over the sea.
I’d like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land on which I will hold ceremony today—the Kaurna people.
I wrote a reminder in my notes to feel my feet on the ground.
I pay my respect to the Elders past, present and emerging from Kaurna Country and also Gumbaynggirr Country where I have travelled from; and to any First Nations people that are present here today.
I shared the story of when I travel to new places I research about the history, people and place. Prior to coming to Adelaide I read about the local history and Dreamtime legends.* It is not my place to speak of the stories and yet I could say, I was moved by reading the history of this land and the stories of the waterholes along the coast as places of mourning.
The Kaurna people have held and will continue to hold a strong connection to place, to Country and I honour their culture, ceremonies and customs that have been a part of this land for tens of thousands of years.
It is an honour to be here.
I took a breath and looked out to the participants of the conference and also to the couple to foster a sense of connection and acknowledgement of their presence. I felt the support of the land beneath my feet and connected with the breath in my body…
We (Nathan, Diana and myself) would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this beautiful land, the Kaurna people. We pay respect to the Elders past and present and emerging who have cared for and will continue to care for Country and share culture that enriches life. It is a beautiful place that Diana and Nathan get to call home and they give thanks for the beauty and the many gifts that come from living here. (Ceremony continued here)
For these two smaller plenary sessions, I spoke spontaneously of the importance of feeling ‘grounded’, taking a breath, and leaning into the support of that which is always here holding us—the earth. I acknowledged Country and also the culture and ceremonies of the Kaurna people and paid my respect to the Elders past, present and emerging honouring all those who have walked this ancient land.
I segued into the next part of the session by saying that we, as celebrants, are now weaving stories and ceremonies on this land for our descendants to lean into.
I would appreciate hearing other stories of Acknowledgement to Country. Please feel free to leave a comment below.
Stories and culture from the Kaurna people