2 June 2021: As Reconciliation Week 2021 comes to an end, the University of Canberra community came together to reflect on their learnings from the week, and to commit to reconciliation values through a ‘Sea of Hands’ exercise.
Reconciliation organisation Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) initiated the Sea of Hands in 1997. Since then it has been an iconic symbol of reconciliation, and a way for communities around Australia to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues and events.
Staff and students were able to write a personal pledge of reconciliation and attach it to a paper cut-out of a hand, before planting it on Ngunnawal Country.
“Together as a community, we’ve created a colourful, vivid, artistic display – recognising the significance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions, and the national journey towards reconciliation,” University of Canberra Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Professor Peter Radoll said.
“As Reconciliation Week comes to an end, this installation is an opportunity to reflect on the reconciliation values, and ensure they’re not forgotten when the week is over.”
The Sea of Hands installation on the concourse used a design created by Ngunnawal artist Richie Allan, with support from University of Canberra Elder in Residence Aunty Roslyn Brown.
It depicts a campfire, but can also be thought of as the centre of the University campus, and indicates the different paths that can be taken to get to this heart.
The lines travelling to the centre of the design represent the seven Ngunnawal clans, and the journey to the campfire represents The Dreaming and the Aboriginal truths of life.
The installation was part of an event which included a Welcome to Country, water blessing, smoking ceremony, and a call to action for the Ngunnawal People.
The event was hosted by the Faculty of Health Reconciliation Working Group, Galambany (a Ngunnawal word meaning ‘Us including You’).
“Today, I encouraged attendees of the Sea of Hands event to make a personal pledge on their hand and plant it as a commitment to their own acts of reconciliation,” Professor Radoll said.