Thursday, September 26, 2013

Black Women Strong... I'm grateful

Photography by Becky Bligh

Last week I had the pleasure of being an invited speaker at the 4th annual Black Women Strong Conference hosted by the Yarrabah Community. The two-day event included a series of workshops, speakers and plenty of time to just yarn.


YARRABAH DREAMING: Only 40 minutes drive from downtown Cairns is the community of Yarrabah  with 3000 people and a setting to die for. Pick a tree by the sea, breathe in the serenity and start to feel the city stress just slide away. It is the perfect setting for reflection, planning, and getting motivated for the challenges that face us as women. 

 Deline, Lou and Emma - photo by Becky Bligh

MUSCIAL INTERLUDE: At the hands of three members of the Black Arm Band –  Deline Briscoe, Emma Donovan and Lou Bennett  we spent some time under the trees (where the best creativity occurs) and penned a Black Women Strong Anthem. As a writer of books, articles etc., it was interesting to watch the team effort that went into writing the song as a collective. It was the women’s generosity and an ability to listen to what each person suggested in terms of lyrics and melody, that made me consider: what might the process look like if men were doing the same thing. I wonder!

YARNING / LISTENING: For me personally, I am always grateful to just STOP. My life has been pretty hectic over the past decade and so the opportunity to connect with First Nations women where I can sit, yarn and listen to the stories of others from around the country, was a real blessing. Aside from delivering a speech and a workshop on writing memoir, which I also felt inspired doing, I got simply be an audience member and just indulge myself in other people’s stories and wisdom.

MUDGIN-GAL GALS: It was a great opportunity for me to see two of my favourite tiddas from Mudgin-gal  present their recently completed NRL Kit on domestic violence. Both Ashlee Donohue and Dixie Link-Gordon have presented their work at the UN a number of times and are wonderful advocates for the rights of women. One of their key messages on the day was that we need to stop saying domestic violence is a women’s issue because as men make up the bulk of perpetrators, it is in fact men’s business. Men need to be talking about DV and challenging each other. Here! Here!

 With conference coordinator, the always calm Elverina Johnson
Photography by Becky Bligh

THE ORGANISERS: A big shout out of gratitude to Elverina Johnson  and Joanne Houghton who worked tirelessly over the past year (I imagine since the last conference finished) to pull this year’s event together. Having organised literary events / seminars etc in the past I know the coordination and stress involved. So with that in mind, I say thank you for the time, effort, energy, enthusiasm and invitation to me to participate. Much peace.

With the stunning Emma Donovan and Ashlee Donohue at the conference dinner

TIDDA TIME: Just want to shout out to the beautiful Ruth Ghee (with me below) who shared breakfast, a stunning view and some special yarns with me while there. Peace tidda.

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