Finding strength by staying connected to culture and country

Year 12 student Katie Ahoy reflects on the importance of culture in her schooling.

23 October 2020

The warmness of being one with the land, feeling a sense of belonging and contentment became quite prominent whilst participating in the One Vision film. My nerves that were built up before starting this program quickly disappeared. I felt excited and attentive when discussing the messages that we were going to portray within the film. This gave not only myself but other Aboriginal students a voice to talk about issues and their hopes for the future.

After viewing the film, I was so proud of myself and fellow students. We successfully executed the message and story for a more unified future. We did this by going to our roots and sharing it through song and dance, which our people have been doing for many years. Aboriginal people often put off these opportunities because they are embarrassed or feel ‘shame’. This film shows that you don't have to be ashamed of your culture or worry about what others think of you. When we all come together anything is possible.

My name is Katie Ahoy and I am the current school captain at Banora Point High School. I am a proud Indigenous woman from the Anaiwan nation, located in the Armidale, New England region. Culture and strong family connections play an important role in shaping my personal identity. The sharing of knowledge and telling of stories creates a sense of belonging and understanding of my culture that I strongly identify with.

I am currently living ‘off Country’ and miss being home but being here has provided me with great opportunities. My involvement in programs at school such as, One Vision Productions, AIME tutoring, Beyond Broncos Girls Academy, NAIDOC celebrations and the School Representative Council have all been rewarding experiences. These initiatives have had a positive influence on my own personal development including things like building my resilience, confidence and cultural integrity.

My aspiration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait kids in schools is for them to recognise the strengths within themselves and realise their full potential. Much can be said for Aboriginal leadership styles and how that has contributed to my own success. I believe that we all have something positive to contribute towards our school and community while being more responsive to the needs and aspirations of Aboriginal people everywhere.

Banora Point High School allows for students to gain a greater understanding of Aboriginal culture and participate in cultural activities. Our school takes all of Year 7 on the’ Pathways on Journey’ excursion. This experience engages, teaches and allows us to have the opportunity to participate in cultural activities creating awareness of the Aboriginal culture. I believe the inclusion of these activities and cultural programs are an important addition to schools. It helps create an inclusive environment for all students which authentically and critically engages students. They celebrate students' engagement with our community and create a sense of togetherness.

These programs have helped me develop and acknowledge my personal identity as well as promoting acceptance and being inclusive of everybody. I have felt more conscious of the issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and understand how these can be culturally sensitive. The video has empowered me because it is the final product culminating from doing these programs. My self-confidence has grown and I have deepened my understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. I have become closer and built relationships with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and others who have participated in these activities within the school.

We are the children of the next generation and together we can create a solidarity nation.

Video: Children of a Generation

Duration: 4:17
Banora Point High School students feature in this video by One Vision Productions.

Singing

Let’s speak face to face, around a meeting place.

Fire warming the heart as our stories we trace,

Passed down from Elders, through generations.

Learning of creations, these tribal orations.

So let’s skip the page and go back in the days.

where they tried to contain the giant crab in a cage.

It escaped, got away, dug the passage at Ukerabagh,

This is where it remains now the land has a scar.

Are we blind for not learning of the dreamtime?

Stories of our land we recite to elevate rhyme.

When the record drops, we recognise this special spot.

We living in, yeah we’ve seen the spirits of the devil dog.

Feel connected to the past, so I think I better look,

Why can’t we learn our native tongue in a school book?

Let’s remind Australia of reconciliation.

A re-education of our beautiful nation.

This will always be our home.

Love and connection to the bone.

We are the children of the generation.

Sharing our stories through song and creation.

We’re still standing strong.

Doesn’t matter ‘bout our skin, still belong in a tribe.

Your words don’t affect me I’m living with pride.

We need to be more positive, accept one another.

In order to connect, we’re all sisters and brothers.

I take a look around. Why is judgement a sound?

We shake the core from the ground whether white or brown.

It’s not really been said cause the language is dead.

Now they shame us instead, but together we bled.

We were fed the same lies from the man at the top.

Now we gotta stop, another generation lost.

If we never face the boss we’ll pay the same cost.

History was written with the pages locked.

Can we take it back, hear the spirit of the song?

When our people kept the bloodline strong.

We dance under trees with the plants from the seed.

As we all come together with our corroboree.

This will always be our home.

Love and connection to the bone.

We are the children of the generation.

Sharing our stories through song and creation.

We’re still standing strong.

When I’m in a group, I wanna contribute.

Get our voices heard and empower the youth.

Respect our culture the old ways and new.

Don’t be small minded, expand your view.

Squash the beef, turn over the new leaf.

We don’t have time for racist beliefs.

Burning off the tension like fire wood.

Coming together as a community should.

This will always be our home.

Love and connection to the bone.

We are the children of the generation.

Sharing our stories through song and creation.

We’re still standing strong.

This will always be our home.

Love and connection to the bone.

We are the children of the generation.

Sharing our stories through song and creation.

We’re still standing strong.

End of transcript.

Katie Ahoy is school captain of Banora Point High School and currently completing her HSC exams.

  • Student voices
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