We only know a tiny proportion about the complexity of the natural world. Wherever you look, there are still things we don’t know about and don’t understand. There are always new things to find out if you go looking for them.David Attenborough
In Australia this week it’s NAIDOC Week (July 4 – 11). NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, and the anacronym has become the title for a week of celebrating the culture, history and achievements of Australia’s First Nations peoples each year.
Every NAIDOC Week has a theme, and this year it is Heal Country. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are calling for greater protections for Australia’s lands and waters, and First Nations’ sacred sites and cultural heritage, to protect them from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.
I’ve taken this directly from the NAIDOC website, as it so clearly explains what Country means:
Country is inherent to our identity. It sustains our lives in every aspect – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally. It is more than a place. When we talk about Country it is spoken of like a person. Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples it has been this way since the dawn of time. Through our languages and songs, we speak to Country; through our ceremonies and traditions we sing to – and celebrate Country – and Country speak to us.
This beautiful poster celebrating NAIDOC Week was created by Gubbi Gubbi Artist Maggie-Jean Douglas. Gubbi Gubbi land is the land that I have recently moved too, here on the Sunshine Coast, and this artwork feels extra special to me as I honour my own link to Country and look for ways that I can #HealCountry.
This NAIDOC week I encourage you to think about how you can help to Heal Country. No matter where you live – in Australia or abroad. The earth needs our love and support, and First Nations people everywhere need support to protect their culture and heritage. We can all find ways to contribute. We can all play a part in Healing Country.
You can also celebrate NAIDOC Week by supporting local Indigenous businesses, foundations and charities, by watching movies or reading books by First Nations artists or with strong First Nations themes, by eating bush foods, and by visiting the NAIDOC website for local events near you.
I’ll leave you with some quotes that help explain connection to Country and spirituality in the words of First Nations people:
“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.” – Australian Aboriginal saying
“So I take this word reconciliation and I use it to reconcile people back to Mother Earth, so they can walk this land together and heal one another because she’s the one that gives birth to everything we see around us, everything we need to survive.” – Max Dulumunmun Harrison
“Our spirituality is a oneness and an interconnectedness with all that lives and breathes, even with all that does not live or breathe.” – Mudrooroo
“The land is my mother. Like a human mother, the land gives us protection, enjoyment and provides our needs – economic, social and religious. We have a human relationship with the land: Mother, daughter, son. When the land is taken from us or destroyed, we feel hurt because we belong to the land and we are part of it.” – Djinyini Gondarra
“The Aboriginal Sunrise Ceremonies are very special to our people. It starts when the sky is black, beautiful black. When the sun’s yellow circle arrives, it turns the sky red. This is why the Aboriginal flag is half red, half black with a yellow circle in the middle. At the Sunrise Ceremony, I meditate and ask the Great Spirit for direction. My hands fill with electricity. I touch you and you feel it, too. I heal people this way. My Grandmother did that, too. I learned all about that when I was a young fellow. Umbarra, the Black Duck, is the special totem of our tribe, the Yuin. We learn to respect the elders who hand on the Law. The elders guard the Law and the Law guards the people. This is the Law that comes from the mountain. The mountain teaches the dreaming.” – Guboo Ted Thomas
Happy NAIDOC Week,
Love from Gubbi Gubbi Country, Nicole xx