Our History

Kurriny Piyirnkujarra lge

The Wyemando Harper Sisters Aboriginal Bequest philanthropic trust was created by sisters Nan, Cecilie and Sue Harper in 1994 to support Aboriginal Western Australians to maintain and protect their language and culture.

Kurriny Piyirnkujarra lgeNan, Cecilie and Sue Harper were granddaughters of Charles Harper of Woodbridge, Western Australia.   MLC, pastoralist, naturalist and farmer, Charles was one of the founders of the co-operative movement in WA and also the Founder of Guildford Grammar School. Nan, Cecilie and Sue inherited the family love of the bush and its people. They all trained as nurses and worked for many years in rural areas as community nurses.

Sue,Nan and Cecilie Harper

Sue, Nan and Cecilie Harper

Through this service and the resultant contact with Aboriginal people, they developed an appreciation of the centrality of first languages and cultures for Aboriginal people.  They strongly affirmed the principle that all people should be able to maintain their culture, language and traditions and recognised the growing challenges Aboriginal people faced in this area.

Cecilie  Sue in desert web compressed

Sue (left) and Cecilie (centre front) in the desert

Nan  Sue with friends web compressed

Sue and Nan (fourth and fifth from left) with friends

Consequently, the sisters established the Wyemando Bequest to encourage the preservation and ongoing transmission of Aboriginal language, traditions and culture to future generations.  The trust’s name derived from Nan and Sue’s home, Wyemando, in turn named after a lake on the Harper family’s Murchison property.

Sue Harper, the last of the founding sisters, passed away in June 2011. On her passing, Professor Kingsley Dickson, Director of Science from the Kings Park Botanical Gardens commented that

“Nan, Cecilie & Sue were three remarkable women, well ahead of their times in their ideas, and their achievements at a time when it was very difficult for women to be achievers…”

Nan  Sue - Dr F Stanley web compressed

Nan and Sue with Dr Fiona Stanley

Since its inception, Wyemando has created a number of language resources in partnership with language speakers in the Goldfields and the Pilbara.  More recently, the focus has shifted to providing financial support, offering grants to support language and cultural work being undertaken within communities.

Kurriny Piyirnkujarra lge

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