By Yaliilan Windl and Budhin Mingaan
Today and every day, we honour our ancestors and we remember them. We honour their strength and courage in their survival. We acknowledge that we exist because of their struggles and because of their resistance. Drawing on all that ancestral wisdom and strength, we offer up these little gems of wisdom from our dilly bag of courage to celebrate all of our beauty and purpose and to heal. As daughters of the disrupted, the dispossessed and the stolen, we remember them.
Our culture and spirituality is within us, it is oneness with our connection to all that lives and breathes … in fact, with all that does not live or breathe. They are both one in the same.
Who am I?
I am a successful blak yinaa who has succeeded when I was not meant to even exist.
Who am I?
I am my Ancestors’ wildest hopes and dreams. I am my Ancestors’ success story. I am being the greatest that I can be.
When I am on Country, my hands and feet in the dirt, the wind whispering lullabies from the old ones in my ear, the aunts and uncles cooking up a mad feed while telling stories of the ways in which we lived, watching the little ones running around giggling and playing as free as the birds, knowing they will never have to hide who they can be – that is when I know I am free, free to be … just be …
Culture, tradition, kinship connections, knowledge and language are deeply rooted within my identity. Without these, I have no identity.
My hands touch the ochre, and I close my eyes. The ochre, it speaks to me, it calms me. I close my eyes and let the feeling wash over me. I let it ripple across the surface of my skin. It sinks into every open pore… I hear the voices of my old people; they speak to me…. I am transported back to that ceremony place… I see my old people; I watch as they dance, they sing and they celebrate, oh so carefree …. One of my old people looks over; she smiles and beckons me …. I take a step toward her, tentative at first, her smile welcomes and encourages me … I am free, I am home, the dust between my toes grounds me in this spirit place, my heart feels full…and before I know what has hit me, I am jolted back to reality, to this space and this place…. I can see clearly what is in front of me …. I can see all of the culture that was meant for me…and should have been passed on to me …. my only link to my old ones, you see …. is Gunhidhaagun – the dirt, the sun, the stars, the moon and the trees ….. it was all taken before I was born, you see…. fractured and taken from my people, you see …. slowly and staunchly we will rebuild, you see; as we have clawed our way back, you see …. the reason, you see; is because we are all of tough mob, you see; survivors, you see; we shall reclaim what lay sleeping …. and gently reawaken her, you see…all that rests deep within my DNA…I will go home,
I belong, my old people, they wait for me.
Feature image by Tabitha Lean
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