A DAY OF TIME TRAVEL, WITH TEA AND BISCUITS (A recount of EWB's Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training)

A recount from James Griffiths about our journey to Roelands Village and the journey he personally took while on the EWB Aboriginal Cultural Awareness training course.

(from http://boundarywalking.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/a-day-of-time-travel-with-tea-and-biscuits/)


“It’s not about pointing fingers” said Les, “it’s about understanding.”


On my left sat Kevin, his face thoughtful as he listened. On my right was Steph, taking notes and laughing as Les counterpointed the darker parts of our state’s history with his good-natured humour.

We sat in at a circle of tables, in an open, well-lit room at Roelands Village, taking in every moment of the Cultural Awareness Training. Wind and water assaulted the building from outside, but soon we were lost in the storytelling, and the rain disappeared.


On that day, we heard stories that took us across the state of Western Australia, and as back as far as 1905. Through words and images, we heard the feet of Aboriginal people dancing along the spirit lines of their nations, and saw the grief of the stolen generation at the Moore River Settlement.


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We had met early that morning, at Bull Creek Station. There was a chill in the air, but our spirits were high, and chatter floated amongst us. Exited to explore our state’s heritage, we set off, a caravan of four cars heading South. But there was also a nervousness about what we might learn.


We arrived to hot drinks and smiles, much welcome after 2 hours on the road. Soon we were all seated and comfortable, sipping coffee and tea, Les began the introductions. He was friendly, welcoming, and respectful to everyone.


Les was the Executive Officer of the indigenous land group that owns Roelands, Wookabunning Kiaka Incorporated. He enjoyed laughing, and liked to joke. However, he also had the bearing of someone who is used to responsibility, and spoke with care.


Les introduced his wife, Rhona, and said that she had supported him a lot in his work. She had prepared us lunch, along with more delicious biscuits than we could eat. Then Les introduced Darrly, who spoke with intelligence and playful humour.


Darryl began by speaking to us about aboriginal culture. As he spoke, a new world opened up to us: one of traditional justice and complex intermarriage systems. We explored the interconnected nature of the values and beliefs that underpin them, and the way they influence behaviour.

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Next we went back in time to the beginning of the 20th century. Aboriginal Australia and the new settlers were establishing tentative relations. Then the 1905 act came into force, giving one man power over a generation of children, many of whom were stolen from their families.

Les spoke of the trauma of that time, and the grief. Then he asked:
“Can I just go around the circle, and ask what is most important to you?”

We replied:

Reflecting on that, we realised that despite our diverse cultures, the things that we valued the most were the same.`


To finish the day, we watched a presentation on the Red Dust Healing Program. We saw how policies of discrimination had intergenerational impacts. We also heard how in learning to deal with rejection people were able to change their lives for the better.


In this way, looking towards the future, we said our goodbyes. It was dark by the time we got into our cars again, and we were tired but still awake. It had been a full day, and I was still trying to process everything we had heard.


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As Daniel drove us steadily homeward we listened to Adele singing about love, loss, and longing. The rain pounded on the windows and the windscreen. Blurred lights passed by outside, and time blurred as well.

Bull Creek Station. We got out of our car, saying our goodbyes, and headed our separate ways. After a cold, wet walk home, I arrived to a warm welcome from my house-mates. I went to bed, turned off the light, and was enveloped by both blankets and darkness.


The day, and the journey, was complete.