Cairns’ first Reconciliation Garden Opens

Cairns’ first Reconciliation Garden Opens

Cairns’ first Reconciliation Garden was unveiled in the heart of Cairns to celebrate National Reconciliation Week. A space for healing, sharing and reconciliation.

The garden is a collaboration project between the Seville Mercy Conference Centre and Minjil, featuring locally-carved story poles and planted with native species used in Indigenous ceremonies. Seville Mercy Conference Centre General Manager Rod Cole-Clarke said the idea for the garden formed several years ago when he and local elders saw an opportunity to help heal the ongoing rift between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. “We wanted a space that was front and centre at Seville, somewhere that is a conversation starter and that can be used by anyone to keep the conversation going, and to hold cultural awareness training and events,” Mr Cole-Clarke said. “If we can heal even one person, it’s worth it.”

Minjil Cultural and Artistic Director Marun Carl Fourmile said the space was important for reconciliation and the preservation of Indigenous history, language and culture. “We’re very grateful to Rod and the team at Seville for their respect and partnership in bringing the Reconciliation Garden to life,” Mr Fourmile said. “We need allies like the Seville Mercy team who understand the bigger picture of reconciliation and learning. We have designed this space together, as a place of one-ness. The garden really is the perfect symbol of reconciliation and we hope that we can share it and our culture with the people of Cairns, Australia and the world for years to come.”

The eight story poles were designed and carved from sustainably sourced timber by the Minjil creative team to share important storylines from the local area. “The poles show totems and stories linked to the Cairns area, including the crocodile, cassowary, the two creation brothers, the snake and the scorpion. We have also planted the garden with native species to make a sustainable hub for collection of some important ceremonial plants, such as lemon myrtle and grass trees, which will be used at Seville and in welcome to country and smoking ceremonies across Cairns,” Mr Fourmile said.

The Reconciliation Garden was designed and constructed by local Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists and tradespeople and funded by the Sisters of Mercy and Seville Mercy Conference Centre.

Dedicated daily Indigenous tours are now also being offered on the sacred site through the rainforest as part of the ongoing business venture between Seville and Minjil. This will provide tourists with a truly traditional indigenous cultural experience only 10 minutes from the CBD, complete with smoking ceremony, traditional rainforest flora and fauna education and fishing demonstrations.

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