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Smoking ceremony on Koolan island

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Smoking ceremony on Koolan island

Posted on 21 Oct 2019

A series of smoking ceremonies has marked the return to production of iron ore at Koolan Island where Mount Gibson Iron is working with Dambi Traditional Owners on a new era for the famous mining operation.

Operations on Dambi country at Koolan Island have resumed with the reconstruction of the mine site following a major flood in 2014

The ceremonies were led by Dambi TOs Gary Umbagai, Francis Woolagoodja, Kenneth Gibson and TO Elder Inga Pederson.

Timed to follow a Koolan Island Co-existence meeting, the smoking ceremonies involved a total of more than 70 employees at three different sites.

Gary Umbagai told participants that the smoking was a cleansing ritual to let ancestors know that the Traditional Owners had returned to country. Called a Bejagu, the ceremony sought to ensure productivity and safety on the island.

Smoking ceremonies use Gurum Wood or Cyprus Pine to produce incense. When the wood burns, leaves, spread over the burning wood produce the smoke. People are asked to walk through the smoke and absorb the cleansing fragrance.

As part of the smoking ceremony at the village, the ceremony leaders let the smoke burn for a while so it could spread through the homes and buildings.

The smoking ceremony was well received by all - Traditional Owners, DAC Staff, Contractors, MGI employees and senior Managers-CEO-Peter Kerr and KI General Manager Tim Wride.


Cultural Awareness Induction

At the KI Co-Existence Committee Meeting at Koolan, the Committee endorsed the Cultural Awareness Training Induction Package, which was implemented almost immediately.

The cultural awareness training is being rolled out each Saturday for new employees on Koolan. MGI is in the process of working out a training roster for all the estimated 270 employees and contractors at Koolan.

The Cultural Awareness Training has been developed for ‘frontline’ employees working on Koolan Island to provide an insight into Dambeem Culture and connection to the land.

It is expected that the program provide each person with a better understanding, knowledge and respect of the significance of Koolan Island and the stories that are connected to the place.

The program tells the stories of the island talks about the caves and story lines that come from the Wandjina paintings.

Dambi and MGI have a strong partnership and work closely together to maximise employment and business opportunities to enhance the social and economic development for Dambi people.