Catholic educators, Vincent McKenzie and Katrina Cambridge have been named as recipients of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) Service to Community Awards.

The awards, announced this week as part of NATSICC’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday celebrations, acknowledge Vincent and Katrina’s outstanding achievements in educating and building relationships across their communities.

Vincent, a teacher at the Christ the King Catholic School, (Djarindjin Lombadina) Broome is a custodian of Bardi language and culture and has been instrumental in ensuring the vitality and preservation of his cultural heritage.

Principal of Christ the King Catholic School Sharon Le Ray said Vincent’s passion for language and culture shines through his role as a language and culture educator.

“His commitment to integrating the sacred and spiritual aspects of Bardi culture with Christianity is truly inspiring,” Sharon said.

“Through on-country masses, healing ceremonies, and a deep understanding of Laudato Si’, Vincent embodies the Catholic ethos and empowers others through his dedication to preserving the identity of his culture and passing on the gift of language.

“His representation of the Kimberley on international platforms, including encounters with Pope Benedict and an upcoming audience with Pope Francis, further underscores his influential presence and commitment to sharing his culture and faith globally.”

Katrina Cambridge is the Canberra & Goulburn representative for the National Catholic Education Commission’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Network and an active member of the Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulburn’s Aboriginal Catholic Ministry (ACM).

The award recognises Katrina’s extraordinary commitment and leadership in fostering cultural and faith engagement through her efforts to encourage Aboriginal families to attend ACM monthly masses and her collaboration with teachers to involve students in their culture and faith have made a significant impact.

Australian Capital Territory NATSICC councillor Sally Fitzgerald said the award also recognised Katrina’s initiative in erecting the NATSICC acknowledgement plaque and advocating for its implementation in other schools, highlighting her dedication to promoting Aboriginal culture and identity.

“Her participation in the NATSICC online cultural competency course and her influence in incorporating Aboriginal history into the curriculum at her daughters’ college exemplify her commitment to education and empowerment,” Sally said.

NATSICC national administrator Craig Arthur said the awards were an opportunity to celebrate those working quietly and selflessly in communities.

“By sharing their stories, we are educating and building relationships across demographics,” Craig said.

“Over the years, we have acknowledged the services of many First Australians working in the Catholic education sector, and this is important because they are teaching and forming the next generation of leaders in Australia.”

Katrina Cambridge and Vincent McKenzie, recipients of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) Service to Community Awards.