FIRE Carriers

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18 July 2022

FIRE CarriersThe Friends Igniting Reconciliation through Education (FIRE) Carrier program is a way Catholic schools can promote respect, fairness and inclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Maria Smith, creative literature specialist and support teacher at Holy Child School, Dallas, reflects on bringing the spirit of the FIRE Carriers to the Year 1 and 2 students at the school:

As the Year 1 and 2 students were learning through their inquiry about the Indigenous history of our nation, their teachers approached me to share with them my story and experience of being a FIRE Carrier at a former school. Our students, many of them English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners, knew very little about the importance of what it means to be a FIRE Carrier, and this was an important learning opportunity for them to be contributors and participants in reconciliation.

Each week, we would gather to learn what it means to be a FIRE Carrier, including Acknowledgements of Country and prayer, sharing traditional Dreaming stories and learning Aboriginal songs like ‘Ngaya Naba’. The enthusiasm and pride among the students were infectious, and we asked them to promise that they would:

  • use Aboriginal prayers in our classrooms
  • learn Aboriginal songs/hymns
  • honour significant days through prayer
  • fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags
  • read Aboriginal stories
  • acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land
  • learn about Australian Aboriginal history
  • care for country
  • learn about totems
  • adopt a totem.

At the end of the term, I conducted a FIRE Carrier ceremony to commission the Year 1 and 2 teachers and students. It was both a powerful and emotional ceremony and, at the completion, the sense of pride among the students was palpable. We all stood proudly saying the FIRE Carrier Prayer, feeling the warmth of the fire still burning both in the pit and within us. I believe our new FIRE Carriers will honour the foundations laid and their commitment to continue the journey to be friends igniting reconciliation through education.