It is with great sadness that Yawuru acknowledges the passing of our senior and beloved Yawuru/Jabirr Jabirr elder Mrs Djiagween on Friday 23rd August in Perth.
NBY CEO Peter Yu said “She was an exceptional woman in all senses of the word, in her dignity, kindness and generosity. Her love of her country and culture and the time she spent passing that on to all of us, particularly her immediate and wider family”.
Mrs Djiagween was a significant person and throughout her life she contributed to the Yawuru and Jabirr Jabirr communities by sharing her knowledge and culture, both in a traditional cultural context and in more contemporary forms of storytelling and media.
In her early years she worked in the laundry at the Nulungu College and the convent for the Sister of St John of God in Broome. She retired in the early 1980s after 30 years as the ‘laundry lady’. She had a long and happy marriage to Stanley Djiagween, and had a large family.
Mrs Djiagween was highly respected for her traditional knowledge and for her contribution to the Native Title process as well as cultural maintenance and continuation. During the long years of work towards achieving Native Title, Mrs Djiagween was one of the named applicants in the Yawuru native title claim. She was also a named applicant in the recent Bindunbur and Jabirr Jabirr/Ngumbarl claim on the Dampier Peninsula. Her knowledge was always highly valued and she continued to contribute to the ongoing work of the Yawuru PBC through the Cultural Reference Group, which ensures decisions and projects are undertaken with confidence, cultural knowledge and community approval.
Mrs Djiagween’s cultural strength inspired many people, and throughout the course of her life she told her stories and shared the values of her culture. Her work on a number books preserves traditional oral history and vital cultural heritage for future generations. She also worked with Marrugeku Dance Company on ‘Buru’. In later years, Mrs Djiagween made beautiful art print textile designs with Nagula Jarndu Women’s Art Resource Centre. Her work continues to ensure that the wider community is better able to appreciate and understand the complexity, beauty and depth of her country and culture. She was recognised by the town and honoured as the patron of Shinju Matsuri, Festival of the Pearl and Kularri NAIDOC Week in 2018 and was also honoured through Nyamba Buru Yawuru’s ‘Mangayin’ Scholarship for young Yawuru people.
Yawuru will be working with her family to ensure appropriate preparations are put in place for her return home and final farewell. We pay our respect and offer support to all of the family members and to the wider Yawuru and Jabirr Jabirr community in this sad time.