This years theme for NAIDOC Week is ‘because of her, we can’. It’s probably the best theme ever, one because I’m a woman and two because considering the strong female led movements from this year, like #Metoo and #Timesup, #becauseofherwecan is the perfect way to highlight and give recognition to all the indigenous women who have helped shaped our future.
Being someone who has never attended a NAIDOC event in their life, this year was the year. Mainly because I am about to marry the love of my life, who is a proud Indigenous man, but also because our future children would be Indigenous and I want this to be part of who they are, so it was my responsibility to make sure this culture is also a part of who I am.
To be honest I had no expectation but to be a spectator, but after listening to the stories of the women that have influenced a nation, I felt so much more connected to a culture that I probably wouldn’t have before. I sat in a small room in a community centre with fellow Indigenous and non-indigenous people, young and old and listened to three generations of men and women speak and give acknowledgement to Indigenous women past and present.
Women like, Shirley Smith 1924-1998, (known as Mum Shirl), a founding member of A.L.S. Led the way for Aboriginal Children Services. She was also a founding member of the Aboriginal Medical Service. Truganini 1812-1876, a strong and defiant individual, her life struggles epitomise the stories of European invasion, and Essie Coffee 1942-1998, known to many as ‘The Bush Queen’ knew the outback of New South Wales better than anyone, passing on her skills for generations to come.
These were only a handful of stories that were told, I had never heard the names of these women before but I’m so glad I know them now. These women overcame outstanding adversity, and listening to their accomplishments, the feminist in me wanted to yell and cheer, because it truly makes me believe that we can! One moment from the event that spoke to me was a poem read and written by proud Gomeroi women, Vickie Slade.
Because of her, we can
Strong beautiful black women have paved the way for me.
My Indigenous sisters have shaped me into the person I want to be.
My daughters give me strength each and every day.
Their resilience to keep moving forward, together we look to a brighter day.
We won't be silenced nor bury our heads in the sand,
We will always stand united on our traditional homelands.
Staunch aboriginal women always fighting for our basic human rights.
Stoic warrior women who never give up the fight.
Our teachers, guiding us from the start,
The nurturers of our souls and our very hearts.
Naidoc theme "because of her we can"
Now because of her, this is who I am
After hearing Vickie’s poem I knew I wanted to help share her story. It’s these stories and the generations of women that came before us that continue to give us a future. As women we need to acknowledge and celebrate all women from every walk of life.
It’s not our adversity that separates us; it’s what brings us together.
It is because of all women, past and present, that we can.
NAIDOC Week end this Sunday 15th July. You can find information on NAIDOC events near you here or check out the highlights from this years NAIDOC Week by using the hashtag #becauseofherwecan.