The Sydney Swans celebrate NAIDOC week, and would like to recognise one of the clubs great connections in Cheryl Davison.
Djiringanj and Walbunja woman Cheryl Davison is the artist behind the Sydney Swans Indigenous Guernsey, but her achievements stretch far and wide along the East coast of Australia.
Davison’s family are Walbanga people from Eurobodalla and the Ngarigo people in the Snow Mountains region, with family also connected to the Wallaga Lake Aboriginal community.
Along with her team at Four Winds, Davison is a driving force behind reviving the local Dhurga language on the South Coast of NSW through song. Create and inspire producer Lara Crew says through her hard work with the Four Winds Djinama Yilaga Choir, Cheryl is helping keep the Dhurga language alive.
“To heal country Cheryl believes you need to sing to country, just like the older generations used to do. The country needs to hear the language and hear the song of this place and its original people. We really believe this is an important part of healing country," says Crew.
"Healing country extends beyond just physically fixing the land – like replanting, revegetating, or supporting the land in practical ways. Spiritual ways also heal country, and that’s what the choir does.
"It was a language that extended way up in La Perouse down to the Victorian border. The predominant users of Dhurga spanned from Wandandian to Wallaga on the NSW South Coast. Bringing back that language, which has been so silent for so long, has taken a lot. The choir has worked incredibly hard.
"There was a group before the choir that brought the Dhurga dictionary into existence. They interviewed all the old people and gathered whatever words and phrases they could together. Of course, then you have the grammatical structure which is quite different, pronunciations are different and so the choir worked hard to bring all that through song, which made it more accessible. The success of the choir has been astounding. Both indigenous and non-indigenous organisations want them to open events or sing at events.
"The choir now visits local schools too. We first teach the songs to the indigenous children in those schools and then they teach it to the broader school population. You can see the pride in the children, they feel ownership of their own culture and then they share it with their classmates, it’s wonderful to see. Non-indigenous children understand too, that it takes hard work and commitment to keep culture alive.”