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Meriam community and the Torres Strait Regional Authority collaborate to help preserve Meriam language and cultural knowledge.

Over the past two years, Meriam Traditional Owners from Mer (Murray Island) in the eastern Torres Strait have partnered with the TSRA’s Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) team to develop Meriam Areriba Tonar, a seasonal calendar poster that highlights how Meriam traditionally coexisted with their land and sea country on Mer and surrounding islands.

The project, led by Mer Gedkem Le Registered Native Title Body Corporate (RNTBC) Chairperson Mr Falen Passi and Directors, was a collaboration with Mer Gedkem Le RNTBC, Meriam Traditional Owners, the TEK team and Meriam Gesap a Gur Keparem Le Rangers to promote the importance of Meriam traditional knowledge and to address the community’s aspirations to preserve their cultural knowledge and Meriam Mir language.

The calendar was developed over four consultation workshops involving between 30 and 50 participants at each gathering.  The calendar was truly locally grown with artwork generously provided by regarded local artist Mr Segar Passi and the participants of Meriba Ged Ngalpun Mab (MGMN).  Language translations and spelling for the calendar were discussed at length with Elders and the final check conducted by the late Deacon Bua Mabo.

TSRA Chairperson, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen said, “The TSRA’s TEK program was set up by TSRA’s Land and Sea Management Unit (LSMU) in response to concerns from many Traditional Owners over of the decline of Indigenous cultural knowledge across the region.

“The TSRA TEK team has been working with Torres Strait communities since 2009 to develop a range of tools to help communties protect their cultural knowledge including through the establishment of secure database systems, the development of educational and language products such as seasonal calendars and booklets.

Mer Gedkem Le RNTBC Chair Mr Falen Passi acknowledged the enormous contribution that the Meriam community made to the project.

Mr Passi said, “By coming together and working as  a team, Elders and youth from the eight tribes have demonstrated the Meriam community’s commitment to protecting and preserving our language and cultural knowledge for future generations of Meriam Le.”

“The Meriam Areriba Tonar poster is an important tool to rekindle our kids’ interest in our culture.   Areriba Tonar depicts important elements of our ancestors’ traditional knowledge including the predominant seasonal winds and how Meriam people navigated, hunted, gardened and lived alongside nature in our part of the world.” Mr Passi stated.

Meriam Areriba Tonar was officially launched by Mer RNTBC Director for Peibri Tribe, Mr Victor Mabo and Ms Hilda Mosby, TSRA’s Environment Portfolio Member on the 27 August 2020 at Mer.

Following the speeches, the schoolchildren delighted the crowd with displays of cultural songs and dance.

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