NAIDOC Week 2021 –

Gwenda’s Story

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4-11 July 2021 is NAIDOC week.

This week recognises and celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC Week is celebrated by all Australians and is a great way for us to learn about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and communities.

The theme for NAIDOC week 2021 is ‘Heal Country.’ Country is inherent to our identity. It is more than a place. It is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. Heal Country calls for us to seek protection and care of our land, waters, and sacred and cultural sites.

However, there is an increase in worry about country. This is because, for many years, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have called for stronger measures to recognize, protect and maintain all features of the Indigenous culture and heritage for all Australians.

NAIDOC week means finally resolving many of the outstanding injustices which impact the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We know we cannot change the past, but we can change the way we view history. This week looks for ways to finalize significant and lasting change.

There are many wonderful events (COVID-19 safe of course) that everyone can be involved in this year’s NAIDOC week.

Our wonderful client, Gwenda, has shared with us how she plans to celebrate NAIDOC week.

“As a proud Palawa woman descendent from the Tasmanian Tebrikuna Tribe, I have the privilege of currently living on the land of the Wamba Wamba nation in the small country of Finley, New South Wales, less than 20km from the mighty Murray River.

Even though I was diagnosed with younger onset behaviour variant Frontal Temporal Dementia (FTD) nine years ago, I still remain passionate about protecting our lands and waterways. FTD does not define me, it is a disease that has changed my abilities but not my passion. It has reduced my empathy and social skills but not my ability to give and receive love. It has changed my personality and skills, but I am still me inside.

I am blessed to have been invited by Deniliquin Local Aboriginal Land Council to join other Elders at the local Golf club, for an Elders Lunch to celebrate the recognition of our Mother Earth, our waterways and our sacred sites as well as our cultural heritage needing greater protection.

I will spend Tuesday 6th July with these wonderful Elders who are imparting knowledge to the younger generations and on Thursday 8th July, I will celebrate with family and friends in the beautiful Waring Park where market stalls and information stands will be available for the community.

The coming together of all local people at NAIDOC week events provides an opportunity to learn more about Aboriginal communities and to join in celebrations. Just like the different types of dementias, there are many different Aboriginal communities and peoples. We are all different colours, and we all celebrate differently. Here I am living with dementia with my pink hair and I will be standing beside the CEO of my Local Aboriginal Land Council with her purple hair, along with uncles and aunts from surrounding areas during NAIDOC week.

Prior to my diagnosis, I was a Social Worker working for several government departments and have been on many management committees for various community organisations. I am the youngest of seven children and mother to five, now with grandchildren and a great grandson. I continue to embrace my life as it is.

Celebrating NAIDOC week within my own community allows me to maintain community connections, feel accepted for the person I am today, not the person I was. This is so important to me, and I am indeed blessed to be embraced by my local Aboriginal communities.” – Gwenda

There are many ways you can get involved this NAIDOC week, including many events that you may want to attend.

Head to https://www.naidoc.org.au/get-involved/naidoc-week-events to find an event near you.

As always, we would love to see how you’re celebrating NAIDOC week, so make sure you send any pictures and stories to your Care Manager so we can reshare them.