I’ve had red puffy eyes for the past month or so since our beloved kuril dhagun Manager, Nadine McDonald-Dowd announced she was leaving the library after 10 years within the institution. Nadine’s last day was on Friday and the office is already a little bit quieter. Nadine had been here from the start – when kuril dhagun was just a concept. I first met Nadine back when she was Artistic Director of Kooemba Jdarra, but I also remember her when she started with the library as I attended consultation meetings held with the Indigenous community in the greater Brisbane area about a new development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander space at the State Library of Queensland. I remember looking at the architectural plans and thinking of the wonderful possibilities of having a dedicated Indigenous space and artistic programs. My expectations were realised and have been surpassed as kuril dhagun has produced innovate and dynamic programs and continues to be a significant cultural learning space.
Since 2006, when the new State Library building was opened, kuril dhagun has had many achievements including a Queensland Premiers Award in 2007. We have had a lot of amazing programs including; school holiday activities, events, exhibitions, concerts, digital projects and been a a part of many community festivals and events. We have had cultural talks (Yarnin’ Time and Night by the Fire), an International cultural exchange program (Native Voices), Murrioke, drag queens dancing on the Talking Circle, young Aboriginal mums glaming their prams (Young Murri Mums Week), live animals in kuril dhagun (Summer Reading Club), International exhibition (Sacred Legacy), Poetry readings (BL.INK), dance classes (kumin@cha), puppets (school program), an 80 year old woman ride a mechanical bull on Maiwar green (Muster UP), and 8 years of black Santa visiting the library (Murri Christmas). We have hosted the NRL Indigenous All Stars Team, lead the AFL Long walk from Musgrave Park to the Gabba and had super star Ed Sheehan visit the space (AIME). We have had clown shows (Clown from Snowy River), film screenings, book launches – one with topless waiters (Anita Heiss’ Manhattan Dreaming book launch), elaborate native food and dining events (STEAM), music concerts with greats like Uncle Kev carmody & Uncle Jimmy Little (ReconciliACTION), Live art installations (Alicia Jones), Scavenger hunts (First to the Verse), Art & Craft workshops (Kreative Kuril), and a breathe-taking performance where singers filled the knowledge walk and the balconies at every level (Voices of the Light Choir), plus many, many more. Most importantly we have facilitated important conversations with our mob, recorded Elder’s oral histories and shared Indigenous stories.
Anyone that knows Nadine would know that she has an extraordinary presence, and a vibrant and infectious personality. She is loving, honest and is extremely encouraging to all of our team, whether it is relating to work or our personal endeavours. She is an extremely hard worker who not only manages, does the paperwork but also gets her hands dirty, represents and participates in all of our programming delivery.
Behind the scenes kuril dhagun has been through enormous change in its time; we have seen 2 State Librarians, had many internal re-structures, been apart of 3 different Directorates and had 9 different Executive Managers and/or Directors. Throughout all these changes kuril dhagun remained a strong, creative and cohesive unit because of great leadership. I am very happy that we will maintain great leadership and thrilled to announce that Elena Wangurra is now the Acting Manager of kuril dhagun and we will remain in great hands.
As we venture into our new phase, we will take with us the learnings, positivity and great work ethic that was instilled in us by our former Manager, current friend and tidda, and look forward to continuing the amazing work of kuril dhagun.