IT WAS an emotional and uplifting day of celebration at the North Coast TAFE Maclean campus yesterday, as hundreds gathered to see the launch of a new book, Yaygirr Dictionary and Grammar.
Yaegl man and TAFE teacher David Prosser has been involved in the project since it was first discussed more than 10 years ago.
While he was instrumental in ensuring the dictionary came to fruition, he acknowledged the combined input from many members of the community, past and present. He said each played an important role in keeping the language alive.
"Language is our soul," Mr Prosser said.
"I soon learned that there were many privileges in learning Goori languages, including the awakening of the cultural traditions that have been sleeping inside of me."
The book, which has preserved 100 words from the Yaegl language, was produced in collaboration with North Coast TAFE, Yaegl Elders and the Muurrbay Language and Culture Centre.
But it won't end there. Mr Prosser said he was already thinking ahead.
"The next step is to establish classes at the Maclean campus to teach the Yaygirr language," he said. "And to train adults to become teachers themselves.
"Then the 'ripple effect' will go into schools."
Mr Prosser said the dictionary was empowering and another way to regain, reclaim, revitalise and also develop the Yaygirr language.
The North Coast TAFE Aboriginal Language Strategy was also launched at the event yesterday.