Creating a Space to Celebrate the Indigenous Peoples of Australia

The 2021 National NAIDOC logo ‘Care for Country’ was designed by Gubbi Gubbi artist Maggie-Jean Douglas.

This week across Australia, we celebrate what’s called NAIDOC Week, a week where every year in July, Australians from all walks of life celebrate and honor the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Now, I’m not an Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander myself. I moved to Australia about 12 years ago and decided to make it my home and apply for Australian citizenship. I recently sat my Australian citizenship test, which presented a few interesting questions relating to the Indigenous peoples of this land. The test really got me thinking about the First Nations peoples of Australia, and how, after living in Australia for over a decade, my knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures — I’m embarrassed to say — still remains extremely limited. Sure, I could say that I’ve watched movies like Rabbit Proof Fence, and that “I have some Aboriginal friends,” but honestly, other than a few facts here and there, I know absolutely nothing about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I guess with NAIDOC Week happening, and because of my Australian Citizenship test, it really hit me: I love this country and want to be a contributing member of its society, but how can I truly call Australia my home when I know so little about the original inhabitants of this land?

As I write this, Australia is still celebrating NAIDOC Week, and this year’s theme is “Heal Country!”. I have to admit that I felt very nervous about even the idea of attempting to do something in honour of NAIDOC Week, given that I’m not indigenous to Australia and don’t know much, but after consulting with a number of friends, I felt that perhaps one of the things I could do was to create a space for conversations and personal stories to be heard, and it was time to start using Baha’i Blog to provide that space and to listen to what our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends have to say.

I decided to start by talking to my friend’s mother Marjorie Reid of the Wulli Wulli people, who come from the Auburn Hawkwood area of Queensland, which is close to where I live. Marjorie graciously agreed to chat with me and be interviewed, and she allowed me to record and share our conversation on Baha’i Blog.

Please understand that this is just a small, fledgling attempt at creating a space to hear from our First Nations friends. With the intention of having more conversations like this one, I hope that we will gain a deeper understanding of the history, culture, experiences, and achievements of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends.

You can watch my interview with Marjorie Reid below:

About the Author

Naysan is the editor of Baha'i Blog and he has worked in various avenues of media for two decades. He’s passionate about using the arts and media to support and explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and he has produced and collaborated on popular music projects like the "DawnBreaker Collective" and the successful Ruhi-inspired sequence of "MANA" albums. His experience as a producer for CNN was invaluable while working on a number of special projects for the Baha’i World Centre, including the "Building Momentum" and "Pilgrimage: A Sacred Experience" videos. If there’s a media-related Baha’i project out there, chances are that Naysan was involved with it somehow!

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