In the lead up to Australia Day, Wreck Bay local Paul McLeod, expresses what it means to him as an Aboriginal person.
“Belonging Day that’s what I’d like to call it”, McLeod said, “Instead of Australia Day let’s call it Belonging Day and then everyone belongs.”
“There’s a little saying if you drop a pebble in the ocean, or into water, the ripples will go out but when they reach their destination they come back.” McLeod said.
”So I’m watching everybody coming to Australia and I’m watching them taking up citizenship and residency and the thing is our philosophies and beliefs from our clans, that have taught me, is that we don’t own land we are custodial keepers and caretakers. We belong to the land because the land’s our mother.”
“I must say that Aboriginal people, or the different clans, from the Yuin and right across Australia, up in Bundjalung country or Daintree mob or wherever they come from have basically the same as what we have.
“In saying that I’m sharing a lot of my knowledge and I’m speaking on behalf of my clan and telling our story from what’s been relayed to me and I’m sharing that with the wider public of the world.”
McLeod explains, “If Aboriginal people have been existing here for 60 thousand years plus whereas Europe, Asia, Africa and the rest of the world can date back as far as 18, 000 – 20,000 maximum, there’s a story within itself there which is self explanatory.
There’s no need for me to explain how it is because if you look at where everything lies it will give you that story.”
In respect to issues of immigration, migrants and refugees in Australia, Mr McLeod said, “I’ve got mixed blood in me, a bit of Irish, Scottish, black Sicilian and Spanish but I don’t disrespect that because our clans took people in and they were part of that Irish and Scottish clan that had mixed blood in them as well.”
McLeod reminds us that, “We come into the world from a spiritual essence, we live in a flesh essence, and then we return to the spirit.
“Our old people always said that, ’you were, you are and you always will be”, so you don’t really go anywhere, you already exist even before you come into flesh.”
He makes an interesting point elaborating on the reason why respect is high on the agenda for most Aboriginal people.
“It’s why we always pay our respects to the land and we always do a little ceremony when we go to get fish. We always teach our children from a young age about how to maintain their language using different songs and different words. We teach them how to dance and have respect for Elders,” he said.
McLeod emphasises that, “Respect for Elders is the most important thing. You must have respect for your Elders because they are the ones that teach the next generation to survive.”
Paul McLeod works with his wife, sons and daughters participating in cross-cultural exchange with the wider public at Booderee National Park.
“I teach and talk about our side of things, how we adapt, how we look at the landscape and then I say to each and every individual that they are most welcome to everything that we are, as long as they have respect for it.”
Because at the end of the day, McLeod explains, “Your human existence will only last for a short space of time and from there you go back to the spiritual essence where everyone is equal.
There is no, ‘you’re greater than me or I’m greater than you’, you just are.
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I guess if you are of Anglo-Celtic decent like me and you live around Sydney and have no interest in the 50000 years of Australian history prior to the British invasion, then the 26 January would seem a reasonable date for a national day.
I am a true blue Aussie, I love this land, I lament its dark past and celebrate its achievements. I can do both.
At the moment I am in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Yesterday I sat down and had a conversation with three children Matthew, Kyle and Jeffrey; their first language is Martu not English. Besides being slightly embarrassed by my own monolingual status I rejoiced in learning from these engaging 9 year olds the words for water, lizard and sky. I did however occur to me that the choice of 26 January for a national day would make no sense at all to these young Australians who spoke one of the oldest living languages in the world. In fact basing anything on an event that occurred a mere 229 years ago in this context seems simply ludicrous.
I do not know what an appropriate date for a national day would be but it is becoming increasing clear that 26th January is not it.
Perhaps the day we are proclaimed as a republic and enter into a treaty with this land’s First Peoples may be a good start. But until then any other day may be better. It had been jokingly suggested that May 8 would be a good alternative simply because it sounds like ‘mate’. I favor this particular date because it is my mother-in-law’s birthday and were I able to achieve an national celebration on this day I would receive the most coveted accolade of all ‘son-in-law of the year’.
My Dad died Monday night. Unexpected. No one saw it coming. Not even he did. He stood at the kitchen sink washing chook eggs, at home in Kadina and had a heart attack. He passed away doing what he loved with Mum at his side. He was to celebrate his 73rd birthday next Tuesday. We are devastated. Beyond devastated.. Brian was a policeman all his life serving in Berri, Adelaide, Murray Bridge and Kadina. He served 40 years as part of SA Police and up till Monday night spent the rest of his life serving absolutely everyone else. He'd help everyone. He didn't care if you were rich or poor, black or white, male or female. If anyone needed help he'd be there. Yet never asked for anything in return. Not once. Dad was like a dog. No matter how grumpy you were with him, or bad you treated him he'd always be happy and forgiving!! Just happy to see you. Dad loved to travel and we covered a fair bit of dirt in the last three years including this pic from the Flinders Ranges. He was my lackey for filming and often drove hundreds of kms thru the night so me and the crew could knock back beers!! We talked a lot about dying in the last few years as we drove thru the Outback to my mates cattle station north of Broken Hill. We'd buy a cold slab at the Mulga, Dad would insist on paying and he'd drive the next 150km to the station while I chewed my way into the slab. Telling stories and talking about livestock and horses... He shared my thoughts on hating thinking either of us would have a long drawn out death. We wanted to go quick and fast and he did. Sadly, too fast to say goodbye. To fast to join me in KI next week, too fast to see our Aussie cows join the charity in Cambodia, too fast to see the filly we bred have her first run in March at Broken Hill. I get a lot of peace knowing he'd be happy to have gone quick and fast with as little bother to anyone as possible. My mother and him were an amazing team. Her work ethic matches his and it's been passed on to me which I love. I said to my eight year old only last week that if I could be 30% of the man Poppa was I'd be happy. She said "Why??" I replied " Poppa never puts himself first. Never. He never says a bad word about anyone and he spends his whole life helping people" I told her if the world was like Poppa then they'd be no wars or fighting. He just wanted peace and for everyone to be happy. Dads one of those country people who waves to everyone when they drive past. When we started coming to the city more I'd laugh as Dad would drive down South Rd waving to every single truck and van heading the other way. Hundreds of them!! If you had to write a book on " How to be a person.. " He'd be your bloke. I wanted to share this news with my Facebook friends at the same time we share the news with close friends and family. Because I'd like all of you reading this to flick your mum or dad a text message saying how grateful you are for everything they do. The last message I sent my dad was asking him to fix my doorbell!! I wish I'd taken the time to send a more heart felt one. So to those who still can take ten seconds to flick someone you care about a random message telling them you appreciate and love them.To those that knew my Dad please help spread the message that his funeral service will be held at Kadina Catholic Church at 11am Tomorrow. We'll still be racing your horse come March Dad, and if she happens to win in Broken Hill I reckon folks will hear us yelling from Adelaide ! RIP BJ ❤️🇦🇺🐎🐂🐓🌹🇦🇺❤️
In this Rwandan community, only 60 per cent of people have access to clean water – but thanks to people like you, that is changing. Within this community, we taught locals how to manually drill wells, which not only created job opportunities, but has also reduced the cost of bringing clean water to the area by 80 per cent. Angelique is one of the women working on this project and proudly shares how the initiative has enabled her to improve her home, provide for her family and become a positive role model for her children and others in the community. "besides giving us water, they gave us a chance to work for ourselves. It’s more than just water. It’s a new lease on life.” Learn more about how water projects like this are helping empower communities: http://wva.me/Empowering-communities Photo by Jon Warren, World Vision.