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.