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Kaiden Hancock-Richards and Darnell Richards are 16-year-olds passionate about the education and preservation of the language and culture of Barngala heritage.
The young leaders have become well-known faces in Port Lincoln for their role in presenting Welcome to Country in the Barngala language at key community events like Tunarama.
I’m passionate about trying to keep my language alive and trying to get the community to work together and getting the language into schools.Darnell Richards
They started learning and doing Welcome to Country at just 12 years of age and have been passionate about the language ever since.
“I’m passionate about trying to keep my language alive and trying to get the community to work together and getting the language into schools,” Darnell said.
“I’m passionate about my heritage and culture, looking after our country and the language and looking after the land and the sea,” Kaiden said.
Kaiden and Darnell now hope to teach the language in local schools and one day open a cultural centre in Port Lincoln to run educational and tourism programs.
Kaiden said one of the greatest achievements he had worked on was developing the Barngala Dictionary app for smart phones.
Kaiden was recognised this year as Young Citizen of the Year for his work on the app and doing Welcome to Country, as well as greeting international tour groups and welcoming cruise ship visitors.
He said being an indigenous leader helped show youth could make a positive contribution to the community and more young people should do the same.
The biggest inspiration to continue to learn, understand and teach the Barngala language and culture comes from the work done by their grandfathers Brenton Richards and Fred Richards who were brothers and integral traditional leaders in Port Lincoln.
“We’re finishing what our grandfathers started... we’ve still got a lot to learn and a long journey ahead of us,” Darnell said.
Kaiden’s mum Emma Richards said it was incredible to see the two of them grow, as their passion for the traditional language developed them into young community leaders.
“A lot of young leaders have stepped up into elders roles sooner,” Ms Richards said.