St Mary’s in Exile and Aboriginal People
St Mary’s in Exile has a treaty with the local Aboriginal people, the Jagara. Sam Watson, a senior Aboriginal man represents his people when he welcomes St Mary’s in Exile community to Country. His welcome provides insight into the integral link between his people and their traditional lands.
Welcome to Country
‘Aboriginal people so loved and identified themselves with the land, that they could find their rhythm of Dreamtime law in every stone, twig or hill, every colour, or watercourse – in fact in any and everything about them…Welcome to Country on behalf of the Jagara tribal nation, south of the Brisbane River and the Turrbal tribal nation, north of the Brisbane River, and other tribal groups whose land adjoins us here – the Yugamby, Wakka Wakka, Jiniburra and Quandamooka peoples and the Munnenjarlie people whose land goes back into the mountains behind the Gold Coast and joins the land of the Bundjalung peoples. The river is the gathering point for all Aboriginal people. The river is known as Maiwar. It runs out into the bay known as Quandamooka. We have blood ties for our people with the Nunuccal people from Stradbroke Island. Their land is known as Minjerribah, the place of the Aboriginal Mosquito Dreaming. They had special ceremony and rituals associated with mosquitoes…The place where we gather today is known as Kurilpa, the place of the water rat. It is also the living place of Kabul, the giant carpet snake, the rainbow serpent, so sacred to our people. For Aboriginal people it is a joy to be with people who also share a high regard for the land, ceremony and ritual’ (Extract from Sam Watson’s Welcome to Country, 2009 in Collins, P. et al., ‘Peter Kennedy, The Man Who Threatened Rome’).
In the opening of St Mary’s in Exile liturgies:
We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land where we gather and recognise that it continues to be sacred to them. We salute these guardians of the earth and all that grows, of the seas, streams and rivers and of all living things. We thank them for passing this heritage on to every people since the dreamtime.