Learn First Nations knowledge to protect the planet, Wadandi custodians urge

Charlotte EltonThe West Australian
Wadandi custodians Gwen Gray and Sharlene Gray
Camera IconWadandi custodians Gwen Gray and Sharlene Gray

First Nations knowledge can stop us “destroying” the planet, local elders have urged.

This morning, more than 100 people attended a NAIDOC week morning tea organised by the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River and the Undalup Association.

At the event, Wadandi woman Gwen Gray urged all Australians to learn about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander idea of “country.”

“There’s so much to celebrate about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture – especially taking care of country,” she said.

“To celebrate “country” means not destroying it.

“We need to pass our knowledge onto our children – not just Indigenous children, but all children.

“I would encourage non-Indigenous adults to tap into your local Aboriginal Liaison Officers to immerse yourself in that knowledge.”

The crowd at the NAIDOC week morning tea
Camera IconThe crowd at the NAIDOC week morning tea

This year, NAIDOC week runs from July 4 to July 11.

The theme is “heal country” – a call for more robust protections for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander cultures and lands.

Wadandi custodians Gwen Gray, Cindy Gray and Sharlene Gray
Camera IconWadandi custodians Gwen Gray, Cindy Gray and Sharlene Gray

At the morning tea, Wadandi custodian Sharleen Gray warned that these lands are constantly under threat.

“Out in the bush, land being cleared, animals being moved from their area, it hurts. It hurts us,” she said.

“Looking after country is really important in our culture.

“I would say to people, go into that culture with your eyes wide open. You will learn something positive.”

Shire President Ian Earl said that the council would pursue “front-end” consultation with local elders on all shire projects.

“It’s recognition of the Aboriginal culture, and how it can work in harmony with the land.

“We need to recognise that, celebrate it, and embrace it – we need to learn to tread more lightly on country.”

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