Keep heritage strong
GENERATIONS of indigenous women were among hundreds who gathered in Darwin for the NAIDOC Week march yesterday.
Among them, Torres Strait Islander Natalie Leysley walked with her family and her two daughters Ruby, 6, and Siobhan, 8, before watching the singing and dancing ceremonies.
Ms Leysley said it was important for her to keep their heritage alive and NAIDOC week provided a platform to pass it to the next generation.
This year’s NAIDOC theme is “Because of her, we can”.
“My mum’s Torres Strait, and because of her I can do this, and my kids can do this, so the dancing is really important and if she wasn’t here, I wouldn’t have that connection to my people which would be really sad,” she said.
“We keep telling the children how important it is that we keep it, because at some point my mum is going to forget.”
Ms Leysley draws inspiration from all the women in her life, including her mother and her children and everyone in between.
“My mother, she didn’t do much when I was a child, but as she grew older she realised that was a mistake, she should have been teaching me and my siblings more about our people and culture, but she was quite happy to find that I was interested because she thought ‘now I can teach you’,” she said.
“Now my children say things like ‘when I have kids, I’m going to teach them these dances and I’m going to perform and keep it alive’, so it’s really empowering to hear that bit of interest in my mum got this whole thing rolling.”
Sally Garling was at the march with lifetime friend Kathy Parfitt. The pair met four decades ago when they were teenagers in Darwin.
“It’s being able to identify in ourselves … it’s about being able to walk in the street and say ‘I’m Sally Garling and I’m indigenous, I belong here’,” she said. “(The theme) makes me miss my mother … but it’s wonderful that they have acknowledged our mothers and their mothers.”
Ms Garling is one of 17 sisters. She said Darwin’s community has been important to her over the years.
“We are a close family and we love everybody, we love the people, I’ve adopted this place, I’ve lived here for 52 years and I’ve grown up here, so this is my country.”