What is Reconciliation?
With 50 years since 1967 on my mind, my thoughts are drawn to reconciliation. To me, reconciliation isn't the sympathetic understanding of strangers. It's the empathetic caring of friends. Friends who take the time to understand our past and how it shapes our present.
The recent past is full of dark times. Despite the features and true desire, my family's Aboriginality was smothered to try and blend with 'everyday' society. Amidst the trauma shared on our streets and flowing through our blood, the fear of an uncertain tomorrow took much of our culture away. In the plight of the times of our children being stolen, my family turned to suicide to ease the hurt and reject our ancestral past. Our proud identity as Aboriginal people was lost to us, left purely in our hearts for later discovery and purpose.
But our Aboriginal past wasn't shaped only by despair, death or hardship. Before those times, it was the stories of my ancestors being tracked to a birth in a cave in the town where I too was born, their stories whispered in the winds, their dancing pounded in the dirt, their songs flowing in the rivers and their legacy in the dots on the walls. Today, this past is all my family have left to cling to, while we try to rebuild our black hearts and understand what it means to be Aboriginal in this age. To heal from the recent past, and connect with our timeless identity on the land of our ancestors.
I often think of where we fit into the stories and dreaming of our people, where we fit in the wider society, and whether our children will be able to connect these worlds. Is a more reconciled world going to allow us to come together, or will we rejoice in broken statistics to check off that we are somehow the same?
We have a lot to be proud of. No longer are Aboriginal People counted in the flora and fauna of the State, needing licences to disprove culture to marry or walk at night or unable to practice dance and ceremony on the lands of their people. We have politicians influencing policy, rangers protecting our landscapes and doctors saving lives. But we also have failing Government policy to keep our people alive, learn the ways of modern society or access to the basic human rights. We are seen as numbers, locked in the spreadsheets of time and data to measure our success as a race. But we are more than this.
Outside of the numbers are people with stories to share, ideas to test and dreams to dream. Like wider society, we want what is best for our kids, we want the chance to thrive and we want to be able to share our culture, our way of life and our thoughts. Reconciliation isn't about us reuniting or coming back together, it should be empathetically recognising where we are and connecting to share.
Let's take the next steps, let's connect.