First Nations youth will share a message through the Choir of Dreams when they perform at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre on Mabo Day.
For the past few months, a group of committed First Nations students have been rehearsing together to form Bundaberg Region’s first language choir, featuring singers coming from the traditional lands of the Gooreng Gooreng, Taribelang Bunda, Gurang, and Bailai Peoples.
River Nations Indigenous Corporation’s Norelle Watson said Choir of Dreams started as an idea to elevate the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.
“Being the year of the referendum it's really important we're talking about ‘voice treaty truth’, and we saw this as an opportunity to tell our story our way,” she said.
“What better way to do it than with young people – our youth, our emerging leaders.”
Norelle said during the Choir of Dreams rehearsals the children’s confidence had flourished.
“It's wonderful to see them step up to the microphone and they don't hesitate,” she said.
“I think they're being really courageous because it takes a lot of courage to get up and to be able to public speak or get on the stage.
“I'm really proud of them.
“It can be reflected in other areas, for example with the students we will see that confidence not just grow in this space, but we'll see that confidence being reflected in the classroom and in their lives.
“We have a wonderful group of volunteers who support us.
“We have an amazing choir conductor, Christie McLucas, who just brings such brilliance, the music that she brings to this journey is wonderful.
“We couldn’t do it without her.”
From little things big things grow
Norelle said the experience had inspired the next generation of singers.
“It's been very empowering because like the song the children are going to sing, From Little Things Big Things Grow, it started very small,” she said.
“A small idea, small group of people and I think small things can be really powerful.
“It's a special day, it’s Mabo Day, 3 June, we celebrate Reconciliation Week, and it's about celebrating heroes like Eddie Koiki Mabo, who gave their everything – who gave their all.
“We wouldn't be here without those sorts of people.
“Those people who are prepared to take that courageous step and raise their voices.”
The Choir of Dreams concert will be held at the end of National Reconciliation Week on Saturday 3 June.
This year’s theme for National Reconciliation Week 2023 is Be a Voice for Generations, which perfectly reflects the Choir of Dreams objective.
“To see our young people share that story it's really important to come from there, from their voices, I think because we have an oral history that goes back 65,000 years,” Norelle said.
“It's something to be really proud of for all Australians.
“That's what reconciliation is about, it’s bringing all of our wonderful communities together and realising that we are one people, and we share a history, stories of truth about our shared history that need to be told.”
Choir of Dreams important community program
Choir of Dreams is an initiation of River Nations Indigenous Corporation through its Indigenous Mentoring Program, which is a social impact arts-based program targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in years 6 to 12 in the Bundaberg Region.
Norelle said it was important to run programs like Choir of Dreams because it was community based.
“It's coming from the grassroots community,” she said.
“This is what the voice is really about.
“It's about local people. We know who our families are, and we work well with each other.
“We have the solutions, and we can find strength in each other.
“These small community-based programs have good positive outcomes for our people.
“Bundaberg Regional Council who've been really supportive, the Regional Arts Development Fund who've funded this project, the team at Moncrieff Theatre, the Queensland Ambulance Service, and we're really grateful for the opportunity to be able to give back to community.”
Choir of Dreams showcase concert will be held at Moncrieff Entertainment Centre 7.30 pm on Saturday 3 June.
It is a free event and bookings are essential by clicking here.
The Choir of Dreams project is supported by Regional Art Development Fund, a partnership between the Queensland Government and Bundaberg Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.