Nunukul, Barada Kabalbarra, and South Sea Islander woman, Indigenous support teacher and student of social sciences, Sharna Willie, shares her journey of self love and resilience as National NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia. NAIDOC week recognises and celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year the NAIDOC theme is for a genuine commitment to ‘Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!’ for systemic change; proper environmental, cultural and heritage protections; working together to end racism and bring justice, equity, and the proper recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights.
MY JOURNEY OF SELF LOVE & RESILIENCE
Self-love is not a destination; it is a journey. It’s something we will always be doing, no matter what season of life we are in or where we are. For me, my self-love has blossomed out of knowing who I am and where I come from… I have always believed that I am called to help others, to lead others, to encourage, strengthen, and love others. But how am I to do this if I do not practice these things for myself?
I am a Nunukul and Barada Kabalbarra woman, an Aboriginal and a South Sea Islander woman. I live with the strength, resilience, and determination of 65,000+ years of Aboriginal culture running through my veins - I walk with it, I run with it, I dance with it. My Elders, Aunties, Uncles, Parents – they give me strength and they have taught me to be resilient. To stand up, get up, and show up.
This resilience, it is key – to self-love, to healing, and to the passing on of my Aboriginal culture. It is embedded in me because my people are and always have been resilient people. This resilience enables me to do what I do, to be who I want to be and step into all I am called to do. Pushing me forward and giving me strength to overcome resistance. To stand up, get up, and show up.
I am nothing without my culture, my people, or my Country – this realisation has allowed me to love myself, full and whole. My Country is a part of me, and I am a part of it. As an Aboriginal woman, it is my cultural obligation to connect with, and care for my Country. To break down the concepts and the shame western society has put on me and my people and in doing so, immerse myself deeper into my cultural identity. My journey of self-love is the fruit of this, with my roots deep in my cultural and spiritual identity, I can, and always will, continue to get up, stand up, and show up.
“I’m currently in the last year of my degree, studying a Bachelor of Social Science at Griffith University, majoring in Social Justice and Environmental Sustainability. Upon completion of my degree I aim to continue educating, learning, and sharing my culture with others while creating significant social, environmental, and economic changes for my people."
JELLURGAL / DREAMING MOUNTAIN
Jellurgal, the Indigenous name for Burleigh Headland, is steeped in aboriginal culture and holds deep significance to the Kombumerri people of the Yugembeh Language Region of South East Queensland. Our beautiful shoot with Sharna took place on this sacred country where we deeply honour and respect the traditional custodians both past, present and emerging of the Kombumerri Country, which we are so grateful to live, breathe and share on. This culture continues to live on through the teachings of passionate Indigenous locals who respect the ancient spiritual connection of this land.
BEAUTIFUL IMAGE SERIES CAPTURED BY @CLOWE.STUDIOS OF @SHARNSEY_____ ON YUGEMBEH COUNTRY.