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A special visit from the Tiwi Strong Women

In May, we were delighted and honoured to host members of the Tiwi Strong Women’s Group.

The singing group from Bathurst Island were in Canberra for the Canberra International Music Festival and to work with Associate Professor Kim Cunio, Head of the ANU School of Music, who this year joined Burgmann as a Residential Fellow.

The Tiwi Strong Women have been singing together since they were young girls, learning traditional songs from their mothers and grandmothers. Now in their 50s, 60s and 70s, they still sing every day, and are teaching the stories and traditional knowledge held in the songs to their grandchildren.

Highlights of their visit included a celebratory welcome dinner with residents, residential staff and esteemed colleagues from the ANU School of Music, and a fireside singalong on the Back Lawn—on what turned out to be one of the coldest May nights on record in Canberra. Travelling with the group was Dr Genevieve Campbell, a Research Fellow at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney, who has worked with the group since 2008. Genevieve shared the following message after their Burgmann visit:

"Thank you for the very lovely welcome dinner (with 'Awungarra' written on the menus, a very nice touch noticed by all) and the fireside singalong wrapped in quilts. Our time at ANU and Burgmann was permeated with a smiling, patient and judgement-free openness that made the visit a positive and empowering one—and something that is being talked about widely back home on the islands as a triumph, especially the survival of the extreme cold. You’ll be pleased to know that everyone is safely back home now and back to 35 degrees (and cosy in ANU hoodies for overnight lows of 20). Nginja nguwuri (thanks)."

Read also:

Tiwi Strong Women perform ancestral song and dance for Canberra International Music Festival
Tiwi Strong Women in Concert

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The Tiwi Strong Women’s Group with the Japanese Maple at Burgmann, (L to R) Gemma Munkara, John Louis Munkara, Frances Therese Portaminni, Augusta Punguatji, Katrina Mungatopi, Regina Kantilla, Elizabeth Tipiloura and Calista Kantilla (seated) Photo credit: Genevieve Campbell
Tiwi group fire
Fireside sing-along with the Tiwi Strong Women’s Group Photo credit: Genevieve Campbell
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