“Noongar language is reviving, it’s moving, and I have an open invitation to you, to come along and learn with us, because together we can empower another generation, another group of children who will be the new elders in our community.”
Charmaine Councillor is an inspiring Noongar woman from Bunbury and Education Officer at the Noongar Boodjar Language Centre. She is also a fine musician and these skills are coming together as she leads language and song writing workshops for CAN’s project Lullabies, teaching Noongar language through the creation of songs for children.
Parents, grandparents and children are relearning their traditional language and using it to create unique lullabies that not only provide comfort to a sleepless child, but can be shared through subsequent generations to keep an ancient and important language alive.
Charmaine believes relearning Noongar language is empowering for her people.
“We want our people to stand proud and say; ‘Yes, I am Noongar. Yes, I do belong to this country’.”
She said in order to empower Noongar people, it was important to reflect on things that disempowered them.
“For a long time Noongar language was forbidden,” she said. “It was considered a bad thing. But today we want to ensure that Noongar people are going to learn their language to have that sense of belonging,” she said at a Ted X talk in Bunbury last year.
“Our children today are our next speakers. If we embrace our language, our identity, we empower ourselves on our country.”
“Yes, I am proud that I am a Noongar woman, and I am proud that I am relearning my Noongar language.”
Charmaine is also an author and artist of five children’s books in both Noongar and English, singer and guitarist of her band WARANGKA and was a consultant and writer for children’s NITV program Waabiny Time.
The 2018 NAIDOC theme “Because of her, we can” highlights the integral role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women play in holding communities and families together. Charmaine is a powerful example of a woman who has made waves working for the rights of her people and their language.