Hi, I'm Mark Allaway, the Australian Coordinator for Global Tree Initiative (GTI), a volunteer charity network of concerned global citizens working to help the planet - principally through planting trees in our own neighbourhoods to address habitat decline, vegetation loss and the climate emergency. The founder of GTI, Tenzin Osel Hita, from Spain, is visiting Australia in early December, 2023 and conducting an earth and mind consciousness retreat (The Habit Alignment Key Retreat) at the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion at Bendigo, Victoria.
As part of this event, Global Tree Initiative (Aust.) and their partner organization, Atisha Buddhist Meditation Centre, Bendigo are jointly sponsoring "A Welcome to Country" ceremony at the commencement of the retreat in the Great Hall of the Great Stupa. This will be performed by Elders of the First Nations People of the Bendigo region, the Dja Dja Wurrung and will include a Smoking Ceremony for the retreat participants and Didgeridoo performance. Funds raised will cover associated costs for the Elders to attend and also for a private briefing for Osel Hita to meet and listen to the Elders talk about their story, the meaning of Country and truth-telling. It is vital that Osel can be introduced to this country's great history and hear firsthand about the significance traditional and contemporary culture in the Australian setting. This will also enable him to carry with him those important insights when he returns to Spain and also inform his future global meetings and dialogues.
Both GTI and Atisha think that the engagement between Osel and the Elders of the Dja Dja Wurrung is especially important in the conversations we are having this year about our indigenous heritage. Any surplus funds will also be directed towards a small tree planting ceremony at Atisha Centre at the conclusion of the Event and to future indigenous planting and habitat restoration around the new Kadampa Stupa site at Atisha Centre.
This is a significant opportunity to blend a valuable indigenous perspective into the Event proceedings and highlight the contribution that First Nations People bring to our global networks. We urge you to support this initiative for the benefit of all sentient beings.