National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
The dates - 27 May to 3 June - are significant.
Yesterday (the 27th) was the day in 1967 that Australia voted to include Aboriginal people in the census. The 3rd of June is the date that the Mabo decision was handed down in 1992, finally recognising in Australian law that Australia was not terra nullius (land belonging to no one) at the time of colonisation. The Mabo decision acknowledged that Aboriginal people had, and continue to have, a lasting and meaningful connection with the land.
The theme for this year's Reconciliation Week is 'Grounded in Truth, Walk Together with Courage'. It encourages truth telling about our colonial history. You can visit the Reconciliation Australia website to learn more.
Through Magpie Goose, we provide a platform for Aboriginal people to share their stories with a wider audience. This fosters understanding, connection and respect. We're grateful that, together with all of our collaborators and the wider Magpie Goose community, we can make a contribution to this reconciliation journey our nation is on.
We'll sign off now and leave you with two powerful and triumphant stories from our recent QLD collaborations.
Uncle Noel Blair, born on Christmas day, was raised in Cherbourg, an Aboriginal reserve in QLD.
Culture was not allowed to be practiced in the camp; no language, no ceremony, no dancing. Despite this, Uncle Noel's grandma would try and keep culture strong - taking him fishing and camping, and telling him stories.
At age 14, Noel was indentured as an (unpaid) labourer for a farm on Quoin Island near Gladstone. He escaped, and went bush, "keeping out of sight of those government people" so he wasn't forced back into a life where he had no control.
Uncle Noel is a Traditional Custodian of Jinibara Country, which was recognised in 2012 by the Federal Court in a native title determination. He has worked for QLD health and legal organisations, and heads up Traditional Custodian duties at the Woodford Folk Festival. He is an all round legend, and retains the most beautiful sense of humour and good nature despite all that he has lived through. "I just want to share my culture, through art, through carving, and now through clothes. How good is that!?"
Uncle Noel's Clapsticks design
Madge Bowen's parents were both stolen from their families as children and taken to Yarrabah mission in Far North QLD.
We're currently featuring Madge's beautiful 'Bulgan Warra' design, which depicts her mother's country.
"This is the place of my ancestors. My mother and her brothers were taken from this country as part of the stolen generation – the white police came in and took them - the boys to Cape Bedford, my mum to Yarrabah. My mother’s brother who is also from this country tells me a lot of dreaming stories about this place.
In this design there’s a big mountain with a lake – this is the northern boundary of Bulgan Warra. There’s lots of wildlife in this area – kangaroos, echidnas, goannas – all sorts.In the lake there’s long neck turtles, and lily pads growing. In the trees there’s lots of different kinds of birds. This tree – the curtain fig tree – has become famous now! Every time I’m asked to draw something, I have to draw this tree; this scene.”
When I’m doing this design, I’ve got this feeling about it that’s hard to explain, like it’s something sacred. It’s hard to put into words.”
Madge and the HopeVale girls in her Bulgan Warra (sacred lake) design.