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Masig Elders present Seasonal Calendar as traditional knowledge gift to Thursday Island students

Masigalgal Elders recently visited local primary schools on Thursday Island to officially present the Masigalgal Seasonal Calendar as a gift to students.

Masig Elders Mr Moses Mene and Mr Ned Mosby along with community member, Mr Percy Misi, came to Thursday Island to launch the ‘Yumplatok’ bible and during this visit, took time out to share the Traditional Ecological Knowledge Seasonal Calendar with the Torres Strait’s youth as a cultural learning tool.

The Elders presented the students of Tagai Primary and Sacred Heart schools with copies of the Masigalgal Seasonal Calendar as a gift that would assist the continuation of traditional knowledge, language and culture for future generations to learn from.

TSRA Chairperson, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen, said the Seasonal Calendar made an excellent gift for students at the schools and other learning organisations across the region.

“The Masigalgal Seasonal Calendar was officially launched in October of 2018 and the poster version depicts important elements of traditional knowledge,” Mr Stephen said.

“It was developed over the past couple of years by the Masig community in close collaboration with the TSRA’s Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) team and reinforces knowledge about the old customary ways of marking annual seasonal changes.

“In fact, the TEK program was set up by TSRA’s Land and Sea Management Unit (LSMU) in response to concerns from many Traditional Owners that Indigenous cultural knowledge about their natural environment understanding being lost to the island’s younger people.

“The LSMU’s solution was to develop an electronic database system with appropriate cultural protections, that community members can access to record their traditional knowledge with confidence.

“The common knowledge learnings gathered for the database were then reproduced as a poster that tells the story of how the people from Masig Island in the central Torres Strait have survived and thrived off the land and sea since time immemorial.”

Masigalgal Elder, Mr Moses Mene, on delivering the gift to students said the importance of the seasonal calendar is that this is their way of life.

“It is important for them to know, so they can practice this way of life themselves and understand more of their cultural knowledge,” Mr Mene said.

“This calendar is for all the children of Torres Strait, not just Kulkulgal children, to learn our language and culture.”

The main elements of the calendar include the predominant seasonal winds and general signs of weather changes as explained by Masigalgal people through their intimate understanding of the islands, marine systems, cloud formations and star constellation by which they navigated, hunted, gardened and lived alongside nature in their part of the world.

Mr Stephen also expressed his appreciation to the Masigalgal Elders, community members, and Traditional Owners for the generous contribution of their time and cultural knowledge throughout the project in order to share it with other communities across the Torres Strait.

In the coming months, a Masig Seasonal Calendar booklet will also be released to include further cultural seasonal information that was captured and stored in the TEK database yet became too much information to be included the in the Seasonal Calendar project.

Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people are advised this website may contain names, images and recordings of people who have passed.