BECAUSE OF HER, WE CAN!
Today is the beginning of NAIDOC Week for 2018. The theme thisvyear, "Because of her, we can!" is one that shines a light on the beauty, strength and grace of our women. As Aboriginal people, we always know the power that our women have and their significance they have always had for our lives and the role they continue to play. The NAIDOC Committee also understand that Sadly, Aboriginal women’s role in our cultural, social andpolitical survival has often been invisible, unsung or diminished. For at least 65,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have carried our dreaming stories, song lines, languages and knowledge that have kept our culture strong and enriched us as the oldest continuing culture on the planet.
For me, I was born blessed into a family that was characterised with the leadership of women. My Nan and my best friend, Maureen Smith and her sister Fay Brown, led our family to uphold and pass down the values that we still hold dear to us. My Nan and Fay were the two pillars of our family and it was through their love, compassion and warmth that I was first exposed to the power of women. With the generations that follow them both, each woman born has innately adopted and embodied the spirit of them both. They weren't particularly leaders to me because of work they did or the roles they played in the community, but it was the way they made me feel and the way they led our family that inspires me. My Nan and Fay were almost like chalk and cheese in the way they led our family, but they did always did it leading with love.
All of my greatest memories are with my Nan and Fay, watching them together united as sisters. Every family gathering, BBQ, party and even sitting down with a cup of tea are moments in time I'll always cherish.
From my Nan, I have learnt integrity, tenacity, respect and of course, resilience. My Nan importantly taught me the value of patience which is something she is still making sure I practice. She’s the strongest person I know and despite all of the trauma, pain and despair my family has been through, my Nan has always been the one to elevate our spirits with her generous, warm, strong heart. She is my best friend and is the only person I know who can tame my temper and transparently understand who I am. I'm so incredibly lucky to still have my Nan walking on the same plane as me, watching over me and the choices I make as I grow further into my adulthood.
My Aunty Fay led with fierceness, pride and authenticity. I consider her life and influence on us as a kindred spirit, one that knew limited boundaries and always yearned for adventure. My Nan always shares the stories of her and Fay when they were young and how Fay was beautifully wild, in her journey but always tender and expressive. My mother had a very close relationship with Fay and as I get older I can see exactly why; my mother's spirit is exactly like Fays. It's like observing what I know of Fay and the stories from my Nan of Fay, come through in my mother's own leadership and experiences. We lost Fay in 2007, 11 year ago now. It still feels like it was yesterday. It was a catastrophic devastation to our family and even that's not saying enough of how we felt and still feel today. Her loss is always noticed but her legacy and her wisdom lives within all of our spirits, especially through her granddaughter Jessica.
It’s everyday people like my Nan and Fay who really can change lives and that's what Aboriginal women have been doing for centuries. My family will continue to do this through all of the females of my family and nothing makes me prouder to know that I belong to them. I also acknowledge the beautiful black women who have come into my life and become family. With each day, underneath the trivial moments of this life, I am inspired; I am loved and I am empowered.
Maureen, Fay, Sherene, Katrina, Kelly (mum), Krystal, Jessica, Jayde, Tahnee, Tyra, Aliyah, Sienna and Myah. Without the mentioning of every way you have inspired and supported me, It is because of you, I can. Yesterday, today and tomorrow.