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Wadandi Bibbulmun woman Meeka Tiendi shares her knowledge at Balingup Primary School

Melissa PedeltyManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Meeka Tiendi with Balingup Primary School students.
Camera IconMeeka Tiendi with Balingup Primary School students. Credit: Balingup Primary School

A respected traditional owner has teamed up with a South West primary school to teach children invaluable lessons on culture, language, nature and customs.

Wadandi Bibbulmun woman Meeka Tiendi is running art workshops, bush walks and demonstrating how to show care for boodja — or land — at Balingup Primary School in an effort to integrate culture into the community.

Ms Tiendi answering questions from the students on a bush walk near school grounds.
Camera IconMs Tiendi answering questions from the students on a bush walk near school grounds. Credit: Balingup Primary School

Ms Tiendi spends two hours a week with the children, covering topics such as how to determine a season change and creating a mia mia — an Aborgingal hut structure made of natural materials.

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Charlee Nock, 6, enjoying her time in Ms Tiendi’s class.
Camera IconCharlee Nock, 6, enjoying her time in Ms Tiendi’s class. Credit: Balingup Primary School

“The aim is to encourage the children to have care for the land around them, the local habitats, and become familiar with the local language,” Ms Tiendi said.

“The cultural studies are important because it allows students to understand the environment from an Indigeneous perspective.

“It makes me very happy to be sharing my culture and having people support and embrace it.”

Beau Higgins, 6, Riley Keding, 7, and Benjamin Van Amerongen, 8, in one of Ms Tiendi’s classes.
Camera IconBeau Higgins, 6, Riley Keding, 7, and Benjamin Van Amerongen, 8, in one of Ms Tiendi’s classes. Credit: Balingup Primary School

School principal Nicole Corcoran said she wanted to embed the Wadandi culture into the school community, rather than take a more tokenistic approach.

“There is a reconciliation component to this relationship as well,” Ms Corcoran said.

“The hopes are to make everyone naturally and intrinsically more connected.”

Ms Corcoran said she intended to install bilingual signs around the school that shared knowledge of the native fauna, flora, Noongar seasons and places of significance.

“All of our efforts are done in consultation with traditional owners in order to ensure what we are doing is appropriate and deemed respectful,” she said.

South West director of education Sue Cuneo said it was wonderful to see the school building strong relationships with the Wadandi people.

“There are valuable lessons to be learnt about the local fauna, flora and boodja,” she said.

“We’re very privileged to have Meeka Tiendi share this cultural knowledge with students.”

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