The importance of keeping Aboriginal languages alive will be celebrated in the upcoming Port Fairy Folk Festival early next month in Victoria with a very big Peek Whurrong language class.
Gunditjmara and Kirrae Whurrung man, Brett Clarke, from the southwest coast of Victoria, had the local language passed down to him from his mother and will lead the workshop.
“She carried down the songs, stories and languages that my grandmother had to keep a secret from the government when she was living on a mission,” Mr Clarke told NITV News on Friday.
Mr Clarke, a musical artist and cultural educator, said he is proud to teach his mother’s language openly at the festival, something that family members before him were unable to do.
“I’m doing this to teach cultural awareness to mainstream communities and to highlight the language, and how it was almost wiped out back in the day,” he said. “And I’ve been reviving it over the last few years too.”
Unsure of who to expect to be attending his beginner language classes, Mr Clarke is nonetheless confident he will attract a large crowd.
“I found that over the past few years people are becoming more interested in Indigenous stories, history and language so I think it (the classes) may be popular,” he said.
The classes will run on the 7th of March, the same day the festival is holding its Indigenous themed concert: First Nations songs and stories.
“I will be performing and my songs include some in English and some chants in language,” Mr Clarke said.
Mr Clarke will teach the audience his mother’s lullaby in the Peek Whurrong language as part of his performance.
“It’s highly important to be keeping our language around and alive and teaching our young ones the importance of songs and the special sacred sites through language,” he said.
The 44th Port Fairy Folk Festival will be held from March 6-9 on the southwest coast of Victoria and will feature an array of musical talent from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists.
Some of this year’s headliners include Archie Roach, Emily Wurramara, Benny Walker and Paul Grabowski.