Our Seeds of Connection program has flourished during 2022, with our project leader Megan Brown supporting other Indigenous leaders to run programs in Roma and other even more remote communities!
Megan and her cousin David McCarthy ran our Indigenous cultural program for children. Healing and Belonging through Culture gave children the opportunity to spend time with members of their local Indigenous communities to learn about cultural practices. The program ran both as an after school experience locally in Roma, as well as a three day camp out on Gunggari Country at Mt Moffat. The group learnt language, made artworks and shared stories before heading out bush to slow down and really connect to the land. It was only a few hours before the children were happily choosing to leave their mobile phones behind, and venture out with the group to connect with each other and explore their sacred land! As the children progressed through the program, it was clear to see them shift from being shy about their Indigenous identity to becoming proud of it. Because of the long history of suppressing Indigenous culture, many of these children haven’t been exposed to their culture, and feel unable to speak of what it means to be Indigenous to their peers.
In line with the Uluru Statement From The Heart, Seeds of Connection and Highways and Byways more broadly are strongly committed to enabling Indigenous communities to empower their children through this gift of culture, and we thank both Mary MacKillop Today and the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal for generously supporting this program.
Religious of Queensland funded the second instalment of our First Nations women’s cultural camp Wandering Spirits. The camp brought women together from far and wide across Queensland; all with a family connection to Gunggari Country and Gungabula Country. The group came together to build connections of trust, so they could share with each other their stories and culture, their values and their lives. The group crossed many decades in ages, allowing this knowledge and experience to be shared and passed from one generation to the next; an opportunity that has been lost over many years. Given many First Nations women have been discouraged from sharing their culture and language over many years, the opportunity to do so on this camp was particularly valued. Some of the younger women had not received this kind of cultural knowledge from other women before, so the opportunity was incredibly valued. We thank Religious of Queensland for their generous support of the program.
Across 2022, Jen Coggan collaborated with Megan to run a Community Wellbeing program in the small rural south-west Queensland towns of Wallumbilla and Roma (Mandandanji Country), Injune (Gungabula Country) and Mitchell (Gunggari Country). Women living very remote lives made the significant step to commit to a day of self-care, travelling into these towns to experience the benefits of yoga and mindfulness based practices. The women loved the experience, especially the sense of being supported by the community to do something for themselves! We thank Australia Post for supporting this Seeds of Connection program so generously!
Image top: David McCarthy leads a Healing and Belonging in Culture workshop to reconnect Indigenous children to their culture.
Image insert top: Participants of a Healing and Belonging in Culture camp on country.
Image insert right: David McCarthy demonstrates the making of a Coolamon bowl from the bark of a tree at the Healing and Belonging in Culture workshop.
Image insert bottom: The making of a Coolamon bowl is usually women’s business so the bowl was given to program facilitator Megan Brown.