Write Around The Murray opens with launch of Indigenous stories

A GROUP of young Indigenous people who might never have thought they could be authors opened a Border literary festival on Wednesday.

The 11th annual Write Around The Murray began its five-day program at Albury Library Museum with the launch of Through Their Eyes, a book created at Albury Wodonga Community College.

A collection of stories from Border Indigenous elders, Through Their Eyes was compiled and illustrated by participants in the college’s We Are Awesome project. We Are Awesome, which aims to reconnect people with education, started earlier this year, involving 20 learners aged 15 years and above.

Albury-Wodonga Community College coach Derek Murray said the participants listened to the stories of elders from both sides of the river.

“They were all diverse stories but each had a significant message, stories of respect, survival and courage,” he said. 

“The learners treated the stories with the utmost respect and took a lot of time and care to create artwork to do the stories justice.”

The book’s title came from the experience of hearing the elders.

“You look at their eyes and when they tell their stories sometimes it’s more than words, it’s the emotion and the expression on their face,” Mr Murray said.

The group met weekly, learning more about literacy and thinking about their history.

“I’ve always told them you got to show up, and they did that every Tuesday,” their coach said. “Look what happens when you show up.”

Participant Trey Taylor admitted to some butterflies about the launch, but also felt proud he had helped create a book.

“I wake up every day and know I did this,” he said.

Albury-Wodonga Community College chief executive Rod Wangman told the young authors the book was an amazing step in their journey.

“To have worked with your elders, to have sat and listened to their stories,” Mr Wangman said.

“The handing down of stories is what makes us; it calls who we are, where we were, what we did and encourages you to do your part in our future community.”

Write Around The Murray continues until Sunday with a series of panel sessions, workshops, author talks and school activities.

Albury mayor Kevin Mack said the council took pride in the festival and the 2017 program, which includes more than 30 authors and 60 events.

“For anyone that wants to be entertained or inspired, you don’t have to go far,” Cr Mack said.