A message from our Program Director, this National Reconcilation Week...
27 May 2019.
My name is Tina Raye and I’m the Program Director at ILF. I belong to the Arabana people, from near Kati Thanda (Lake Eyre), and the Bardi and Jabirr Jabirr people, from north of Broome on the Dampier Peninsula. Yesterday, we acknowledged National Sorry Day to recognise members of the Stolen Generations. This National Day of Healing is at the heart of our steps towards reconciliation. Today marks the beginning of National Reconciliation Week and we reflect on this year's theme: GROUNDED IN TRUTH: Walk together with courage. Here, we are invited to learn a little more about our shared histories and cultures, and think more deeply about how we could contribute to achieving reconciliation for our country.
Today I would like to share how this rings true at our Foundation.
Before starting at ILF just over six years ago, I worked as a primary school teacher in the Northern Territory. My last teaching position was on the Tiwi Islands. In 2012, I was an Accelerated Literacy Project Officer in the NT Department of Education and Training, working with remote schools across the Top End.
After years of work with students for whom many English was often their second or third language, I have seen the immense joy that books and reading can bring. I have witnessed the ways in which literacy opens up a world of opportunity. And I have seen just how much can be achieved when people work together, in genuine collaboration, to deliver programs that make a real difference to children’s lives.
For me, “grounded in truth” means that as a nation we must learn and understand the truths of our shared history. And this is deeply engrained in ILF’s commitment to providing opportunities for Indigenous people in remote communities to tell, write and share their own truths, in the languages they choose to tell them in.
Our Community Literacy Projects publishes stories written by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people. The stories are often about Indigenous lives, cultures and experiences that otherwise would not be recorded or shared. One of these books, Wamparla Apira(Possums and Tall Trees) is close to my heart. This traditional tale tells of the time when the Arabana people, my ancestors, hunted possums for food and clothing. The story has been re-told in both Arabana and English by elder Thanthi Syd Strangways and illustrated by Arabana artist Kathy Arbon. Not only is it a beautiful children's book, but it is a valuable resource for our language which is severely endangered.
The phrase “Walk together” speaks to how ILF is a collaboration between the Indigenous community and the broader Australian community. Our Indigenous staff, board, ambassadors and remote community partnerships bring the knowledge and experience in first languages, cultural preservation, and Indigenous education. And our non-Indigenous book industry foundations (board, author ambassadors, founder, publishing and bookseller partnerships) bring expertise and unique opportunities for our programs that allow them to have such impact. As our Board Director and Butchella man Glen Miller put it, “ILF is reconciliation in action.”
“With courage” are two words that stir me to action. I know that reconciliation will not come from sitting back and being idle. It is something we consciously need to strive for, Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike, working alongside each other, towards a shared goal.
This National Reconciliation Week, I encourage you to learn more about our country’s rich Indigenous culture and history, engage in those challenging conversations allowing you to unlearn or relearn what you know, and no matter what your background is, we must all contribute to achieve a unified future.
By making a donation to the ILF this National Reconciliation Week, you are supporting a cause that is grounded in truth and walks together in courage. Your donation will ensure Indigenous stories and truths are told, written and shared, and the joys and opportunities that books and reading bring, are made accessible to all children in Australia.
Thank you for standing with us this National Reconciliation Week.