The power of connecting with First Nations peoples
by Tash Brunhuber
During the Healing Our Spirit Worldwide Gathering (HOSW) in Canada, The Healing Foundation delegation took part in the First Nations parade and proudly represented Australia alongside Aotearoa, Hawaii, US, Coast Salish and Vancouver Island.
CEO Shannan Dodson made us all proud when she handed the conference over to Canada, after the eighth gathering was held in Sydney in 2018. Shannan spoke about the inadequate response from the Australian Government on the 52 recommendations of the Bringing Them Home Report. She also spoke about our Stolen Generations ongoing fight for justice and healing, and working and learning together internationally to create positive change for First Nations peoples across the globe.
In her speech, Shannan acknowledged the heartache for the First Nations peoples in Canada over the recent discovery of 215 children buried in unmarked graves on the Kamloops Residential School property. “We honour the children, their families, communities and First Nations across Canada. We grieve with you,” she said.
Finding strength by standing together
Shannan was joined by Yolngu Elder Djapirri Mununggirritj who spoke about the strength of coming together at the HOSW gathering. She spoke about how meeting other First Nations peoples has helped build her strength to continue being a fighter, not only in her community in Yirrkala, but across Australia.
On Thursday Stolen Generations Reference Group representatives Uncle Tony and Uncle David took to the stage. They talked about their own personal experiences being Stolen Generations survivors, and about the current challenges survivors face across Australia.
Healing and ‘good medicine’ for First Nations people
During the week, Board Director Steph Harvey also was interview by the First Nations Radio segment ‘Good Medicine’. Among other topics, Steph spoke about healing and what good medicine looks like for First Nations peoples. Some tips Steph included:
- Getting connected and staying connected with other First Nations peoples
- Staying grounded in culture
- Being on Country
- Breathe and connect to surroundings
- Draw strength from our ancestors.
The Healing Foundation will share the podcast with Steph once it becomes available!
Thankful for a life-changing experience
Now that The Healing Foundation delegation is back in Australia, we would like to do a big shout out to Angela and the team at the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, to Trisha and Kirstin at the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue and to Sue at the Museum of Anthropology.
We cannot thank them enough for spending time with us and making us feel so welcome. We learnt so much while on our study tour, including the many similarities between our two countries’ treatment of our First Nations peoples. We have also gained some valuable knowledge and experiences that we will all carry with us back into our lives and day to day jobs working with our communities.
The Healing Foundation delegates said this trip was ‘a life changing experience emotionally, spiritually and physically’.
We have captured some special interview footage from our Stolen Generations survivors Uncle David and Uncle Tony which we will be sharing with you all. We also have some very valuable insights from our Youth delegates who provided the perspective of descendants while being on this trip.
Stay tuned for more learnings from our trip to Canada!
In strength and healing!