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Smoking Ceremony heralds Fire Danger Period
A traditional Smoking Ceremony performed by Wolithiga Elder, Rick Ronnan, was held in District 20 at Bamawm Extension Fire Station on Sunday 12 November to usher in this season’s Fire Danger Period which commences on Friday 17 November from 0100 hours in Campaspe and Loddon shires.
On behalf of CFA District 20, Bamawm Extension Fire Brigade hosted and proudly embraced the culturally significant ceremony. Over 50 CFA members from neighbouring brigades including Gunbower, Kotta, Lockington, and Rochester along with CFA support staff from around the region were invited to walk through the smoke created by the smouldering of various native plants.
Passage through the smoke is believed to have cleansing properties and the ability to ward off bad spirits and to open up to good spirit or “Biiami” for those who chose to participate.
CFA District 20, under the leadership of Peter Taylor, Operations Manager, initiated the idea of hosting a Smoking Ceremony at the start of every summer fire season to give our local firefighting members the opportunity to ready themselves for safe passage through the summer fire period.
“The Smoking Ceremony is also an opportunity for CFA to acknowledge our aboriginal past and pay our respects to the Traditional Custodians of the lands which we continue to protect,” said Peter.
Peter then spoke at length about the importance of engaging with Victoria’s Koori communities. ‘This smoking ceremony is all about building partnerships based on cultural exchange and knowledge sharing’, Peter said. ‘D20 is committed to the CFA Koori Inclusion Action Plan and this ceremony is one of many more steps we will take in building lasting partnerships’, he said.
Senior Aboriginal elder and former CFA fire fighter Professor Henry Atkinson spoke about the pride he felt to have partnered with CFA in the development of the Koori Inclusion Action Plan and how wonderful it was to see the plan in action within the district.
‘Today is symbolic of the friendship between Aboriginal people and the CFA,’ he said, as he watched as Elder Rick Ronnan passed an Aboriginal flag through the rich smoke. ‘The colours of the flag represent something special to our community, and flying the flag here at the brigade is a symbol that our people are welcome here,’ he said.
Professor Atkinson then presented the flag to the Bamawm Extension brigade Captain George Calleja and secretary Bryan Pickthall who raised the flag with pride.
In appreciation of their support in hosting the Smoking Ceremony, a framed print of the painting, “Working Together” by local artist Emma Bamblett was presented to the Bamawm Extension Fire Brigade.
More photos by BASO Lisa Brettschneider can be found on the CFA District 20 Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/cfadistrict20/posts/817906038394459