The year 2020 has started with Australia at the forefront of our minds, news channels and Instagram feeds as we see the wildfires rage throughout the country. Despite the feeling of despair and worry, there has been a heartwarming spirit of comradery, benevolence, generosity and action. Over $200 million dollars have been raised for communities across Australia to aid in the difficult process of recovering and rebuilding what has been lost.
For many First Nation Australians these fires are uniquely painful as their heritage and cultural life is tied to the land. Whilst still recovering from the colonial trauma of dispossession of their traditional homeland, the fires are an added catastrophe, as it ravages through their sacred places. Many have watched their homelands being mismanaged or neglected, whilst cultural fire management practices have been restricted or ignored, by the Australian government, making these fires an even more bitter pill they are forced to swallow.
We take a look at the unique perspective from a First Nation Family who are raising their son to be a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. We discuss why understanding and being proud of our heritage is powerful, the importance of inclusion in everyday life and useful practices for our environment, we can borrow from the oldest surviving nation in the world.
Iluka wears our Kamso Mali Shirt in Featherdot.
Q - We would love to hear a little bit about yourself and your heritage?
A - My name is Tamika and I am a proud Aboriginal, Torres Strait and South Sea Islander woman from my fathers family, and my mother is white Australian with her ancestry from France, Germany, Spanish and English.
Q -How would you describe yourself beyond being a mother??
A - Beyond being Iluka’s mummy, I am also a student finalising my Bachelor of Environmental & Marine Science, as well as working full time and finding time to be creative in my hobby writing
Q - How are you actively taking steps to ensure Iluka has a strong sense of heritage and culture?
A - Growing up, my father's family did not carry pride about our heritage and culture, and unfortunately that was also passed down to me. It wasn’t until my best friends and I participated in a school program for Indigenous students that I began to feel empowered and proud of my culture. Before Iluka was even born I wanted to make sure that the felt that he was proud of his culture before his birth, so instead of the normal maternity photos, my partner and I were painted up traditionally and had our maternity photos taken.
Before Iluka even began to walk, Ben and I have encouraged him to traditionally dance with us, and fortunately Iluka has already performed at some amazing events. Now that he can walk he is getting even more confident to shake a leg, clap his clap sticks and even attempts to play his mini didgeridoo.
Iluka wears our Kamso Printed Congo Shorts.
Q - Why do you feel it is important for Iluka to be so strongly connected to his heritage??
A - I think it is so important for the next generation to have a strong sense of their culture and to be proud of their ancestry as it plays a vital role in shaping a young persons identity and truly knowing who they are.
Q – What would you like to change surrounding the perception of your culture and how are you doing so?
A - The main thing I would change about our perception is that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are PEOPLE, and do not deserve and are not the labels and stereotypes that colonisation in Australia put on us. I am helping pave the way about the perception of our people by assisting my partner with his business “TAKE PRIDE MOVEMENT”. Which is an Indigenous clothing and apparel label showcasing Indigenous people, our culture, our history and our pride. The main message of the label is that no matter what background you come from, we want everyone to take pride in the oldest surviving culture in the world and celebrate First Nations people of Australia. I also do a lot of work with youth and climate change about empowering our people.
Q - Why do you think it is important for others to learn, understand and embrace different cultures?
A - It is so important for others to learn and embrace different cultures as it is a sign of respect. We come from all corners of the globe with different traditions and beliefs, and as a big believer in education and equality, I believe that all people should be embracing our differences and celebrating it together, because that is what makes the human race so unique.
Iluka wears our Kamso Mali Shirt in Featherdot and printed Congo Shorts. Tallulah wears our Printed Turmeric Bloomers.
Q - Do you feel indigenous culture is incorporated within your favourite brands and do you think it is important that they organically do so?
A - At this point in time I have slowly seen a rise of different culture with different brands, which is so amazing and exciting to see. But I also think there is a massive opportunity for well known brands to come together with Indigenous artist to incorporate Australia’s diversity and uniqueness of our culture to be celebrated and worn with pride for all people to wear. As soon as I saw Kamso Kids it was like a pinch me moment. Because I was so excited to finally see diversity within the clothing industry.
Iluka wears our Kamso Remi Linen Wrap.
Q - As a student of Environmental and Marine studies and simultaneously an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman, these fires must be heart wrenching to witness. Aboriginal and indigenous practices focus living symbiotically with Mother Nature. From your perspective, what steps and advice do you feel Australia can take from First Nation people being stewards of the Earth?
A - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people come from the oldest surviving culture on the planet, which was not just by chance. Our ancestors taught us the land is apart of who we are, if the land is sick, so are we. Unfortunately with these tragic fires raging across Australia, it has definitely been a wake up call for our society and government. Since colonisation the quality of the health of our land and sea has rapidly decreased, to the point where it is scientifically proven if we don't implement sustainable and renewable strategies to reverse the impacts of climate change, the existence of human kind is at risk.
The advice that I give to everyone is to start to learn about how your everyday living has an impact on climate change and start looking at sustainable solutions. I strongly urge, not just here in Australia, but worldwide, that we listen and learn from our First Nations people to care, protect and sustainably manage the land and sea. First Nations people hold a wealth of knowledge and it's time our Western society enables us to practice our sacred knowledge to save the planet.
Q - In what ways are you helping during these wildfire and the aftermath for the First Nation communities and how can the international communities help and support?
A - Last week, we held a fundraiser with SEED and Take Pride Movement raising over $3.5K donated to First Nations Fire Relief GoFundMe Page and WIRES rescuing wildlife. Before you donate, I urge you to do the research and find out if the money is directly going to those impacted by the fires.
If you would like further information and to donate to the First Nations Fire Relief for First Nation Communities please click HERE.
Follow Tamika and the Take Pride Movement on Instagram: @TamikaSadler and @TakePrideMovement
Photo's taken by Brooke Elizabeth on instagram: @BrookeElizabeth.Photography