What's so special and beautiful about Baby Business by Jasmine Seymour...

When I am looking for new resources to stock here at Riley Callie Resources, I usually ask myself three questions which help me determine whether it is a right fit for our store:

  1. Does the resource itself come from within our First Nations people?

  2. What does it offer our children in the early learning space?

  3. What lessons relating to sharing the rich history and culture of Indigenous Australia can it teach?

When I first got a hold of the beautiful Baby Business by Jasmine Seymour, a Darug author, I was blown away by the sheer beauty of her book. The content is easy to read, the pages are visual, and most importantly, the themes it covers are special and culturally important. Baby Business talks about welcoming children to their Country through smoking ceremony. It describes the process of how this is done, and talks about why.

Smoking ceremonies are used to ’cleanse’ places and people of ‘bad spirits’. They typically involve the burning of native plants to produce smoke; the smoke protects and wards off bad spirits and allows people to acknowledge the ancestors and pay respect to the Country. There is a great deal of variation in smoking ceremonies across the country; they can be used at burials, welcoming ceremonies, celebrations, births, and other significant times. Some groups also choose to use particular plants for the ceremony, as Jasmine shares in Baby Business; the use of paperbark, termite mud and green leaves.

To introduce children to this concept in the early learning space I think is just wonderful. In recent times, we are starting to see an emergence of Welcome Baby or Children to Country Days across the country. There was recently one held near to me at Moreton Bay in northern Brisbane, where more than 20 newborn babies took part and were welcomed by the local Indigenous community. The rejuvenation of ceremonies like this, particularly in urban areas, is a beautiful way to celebrate and share culture with our younger generations. It is about connection, and identity, and building cultural resilience in today’s world.

Deborah Hoger