Important collection links history and culture

Important collection links history and culture

A unique collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artefacts is now on permanent display at No. 11 Squadron’s new facility where the pieces were unearthed during building work.

The exhibit celebrates the enduring connection of the RAAF Base Edinburgh community with the Kaurna people whose artefacts were discovered.

The tools and working stones belonging to the local Kaurna people, were carefully unearthed during the site preparations of the new purpose-built 11SQN Hangar, Maintenance and Operations facility (HMOF) to support P-8A Poseidon operations.

RAAF Base Edinburgh Indigenous Liaison Officer Flight Lieutenant Steven Warrior said being able to retain this history at the squadron was a great honour.

“Being entrusted as a custodian of these artefacts that are hundreds of years old, and of such significance to the Kaurna community, is of the highest accord and one not afforded to many,” Flight Lieutenant Warrior said.

To accompany the artefacts, two artists, Ms Sam Gollan, a Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri woman, and Corporal Tara Enchong, a Torres Strait Islander, were commissioned to paint murals representing the Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander cultures. 

Their work captured personal connections to country and showcased the significant part 11SQN has played in that history with over eight decades of service.

11SQN Commanding Officer Wing Commander Simon Van der Wijngaart said was a “a great honour” to display the collection that combined Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and 11SQN history and culture in a way that linked everyone to the lands and seas “that make up our home”.

“Since 1939, when 11SQN was formed, our commitment to the defence of Australia has run parallel to the existing practices of the first Australians who presided over and engaged in the protection of the land and waterways for generations,” Wing Commander Van der Wijngaart said.

Future plans for the exhibit include the addition of tablets alongside the artworks and artefacts with more in-depth information on each piece. Links through an interactive, digital knowledge portal will contain information on the importance of each item and the location where it was unearthed.

11SQN members and visitors to the new facility will also discover more about the Kaurna people and their language along with the importance of the ‘Welcome to Country’ and ‘Acknowledgement of Country’.

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