It means a lot for me to be an Aboriginal woman with a strong sense of cultural connection. It’s the foundations of one’s identity. For me as an Aboriginal woman I feel honoured to have the bloodlines running through me that belong to the oldest living culture in the world, and this country should be proud of that too.
Having a sense of belonging is extremely important to me because if I didn’t have that, I would feel empty and disconnected. This country now has an English name – “Australia”. Australia is just one of the many labels given to this country. Whilst its name may have changed, its landscape has changed, but my spiritual connection to the land will never change because I share the same “woman business” with Mother Earth. She gave birth to the trees, fruits, animals and the list goes on. I gave birth to my heritage, through my children and that’s my continuing connection to my identity and culture as an Aboriginal woman! One of the stories in my life that I want to share with everyone is my family inheritance – resilience.
I’ve inherited two layers of resilience, individual and cultural. As an Aboriginal person, culturally, I have survived through evolution, invasion, dispossession, and so many unjust policies that were implemented to control and change my heritage. It was particularly sad and extremely inappropriate for Aboriginal people to be perceived and/or classified as ‘flora’ and ‘fauna’ for so many years until the referendum came about in 1967. As an individual, I’ve found my resilience to move through the hatred and judgment and I couldn’t have done this without my ancestors’ story-telling and the practise of the ‘lore’ in my culture.
We all have fear in us and it is a warning emotion. My greatest fear in life would be that people around me are slowly disconnecting from their resilience and consciousness. I couldn’t deal with fear without my spirituality. It’s a bridge between my understanding, emotions, and feelings. If I didn’t have my spirituality, I wouldn’t have empathy at all. To me, important values such as empathy, respect, compassion and love determine the way we, as a collective community, relate to people, animals and the sacred land.
I was silly enough during my youth to let the negative comments about my race get the better of me. I began to question if they were true and this made my confidence low so I went through my teens and twenties feeling ashamed of who I was as an Aboriginal person. It wasn’t until I became an aunty and had my children that I began to change my thinking. I needed to be true to myself, so I began to peel the shame away and discover more about myself as a person and I wouldn’t be able to do that if I didn’t find the confidence to have conversations on the negative judgments people have towards my culture. By sharing my unique culture to others has empowered many people to take up challenges in life with confidence and a sense of strong identity, and I sincerely hope many more people will be willing to step up and become “role models” to help others who are struggling in their life.