“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
Today is a national holiday – Australia Day. It’s a day that commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet into Sydney Cove in 1788.
Today I will share a table with friends, and dine on roast lamb and pavlova, but it will be a muted celebration for me. My feelings about this day are complex. I am grateful for this country and have a deep love for the land beneath my feet, but I also acknowledge the terrible price First Nations peoples have paid with the invasion and colonisations of their lands – and the continued lower standard of life, generational trauma and systemic racism they must endure. I am so sorry for what these people have experienced, and what they continue to experience.
I see how important it is for contemporary Australians to keep working towards acknowledging and healing those hurts and injustices, and for First Nations people to be given voice and empowerment to guide us forward in doing that.
Today I contemplate the land clearing, mass extinction events and climate change that is altering the face of our country and the wider world, the rampant desecration and destruction of Aboriginal artwork and sacred sites by mining companies, the loss of habitat and the terrible droughts, fires and floods of the past decade, and our country’s track record on asylum seekers.
I am thinking about the great Australian spirit of mateship and community during disasters, the resilience that was shown during the floods and the bushfires, and how city people came together to help country people during the droughts. I am thinking of the small groups of people all over our country who are rehabilitating and regenerating the land, restoring habitat, caring for wildlife, caring for new immigrants, and providing connection and care within the community.
Like I said, it’s such a day of mixed emotions for me – of hurt and shame and pride and deep love. Still, I guess most relationships are complex, and these feelings can make us strive to do more, and to do better. I am thinking about how I can do more in the year ahead, for this country I call home.
Hugs, Love, and a little early morning philosophy, Nicole xx