What is cultural responsibility? I believe all of us will have a different version of this based on our values, beliefs and cultural connections. This isn’t to say ALL Aboriginal peoples are responsible for all things cultural, because we are not. It's important to remember that Aboriginal cultural knowledge will differ from person to person. The connection to community will also look very different. Western world have a series of embedded beliefs that:
1. We identify as Aboriginal then we must know every cultural protocol across the whole of the country
2. We Know every Aboriginal person across the whole of the country
3. We are obligated to provide the western world with free cultural knowledge when it is requested
4. That we can not have different opinions and ways of doing culture
5. We speak for every Aboriginal person in the country or someone else speaks for us.
I have a cultural responsibility and as I share this I will highlight, I only speak for me and my children, we share the same values and same commitment to changing the injustices our peoples are facing.
1. I am committed to ensuring the advocacy of my ancestors don't get lost in a whitewashed version of false truths, this may include educating for systems change and sharing knowledge but my agenda is always giving my ancestors the voice they lost here in their travel to the dreamtime.
2. I am committed to standing up to and facing racism, lateral violence and ongoing cultural genocide, if this means I refuse paid work from a company I will ensure that I let them know the reasons why, they can make an informed choice to make change.
3. I am committed to ensure that Aboriginal workers across the region are in a safer working environment, that cultural safety is implemented and that they have access to support through cultural supervision (paid or not paid) and that I provide them with strategies and resources to ensure they feel skilled enough to approach any situation.
4. I have a cultural responsibility to NOT speak for communities that are not mine, I will always recommend a service / person / elder if I know, from that area. This also falls into cultural protocols.
5. I have a cultural responsibility to ensure that I stand in my power, that I am opened to listening, that I am ready to learn, and that I remember that I come with a long line of ancestors standing behind me, guiding me on my journey.
I have a strong spiritual connection to my ancestors, but I am faced with challenges daily, white people telling me I am making too many waves, Aboriginal people questioning my motives, family commitments, torn between keeping a paid job and speaking truth, holding space for others truths, the unspoken history, the polices that continue to silence me, and the need to conform to parts of the western dominant world to survive and also because I want to live in the modern world, social media attacks etc etc.
First Nations peoples are struggling, our hearts are torn, we walk, work and live in two worlds, we are maintaining our strong cultural connections and working in western system that oppresses us from being able to engage culturally with community. The western systems employ us to build cultural engagement, close the gap and then restrict us with the same policies that made the gap in the first place, we are continuously trying to navigate a system that triggers our own traumas from injustices we have faced personally.
Maintaining our cultural responsibility is complex to say the least, but there are ways we can ensure spiritual connection. Sit in country, listen to the sounds of our ancestors, the whispers in the trees and the singing of the birds. Sit by the ocean and listen to the waves on the edge of the rocks, Engage with an elder and have a yarn, light a fire and send a message to the ancestors, give yourself permission to stand in your truth and use your voice even if you are alone, ask for help, stand beside a person experiences injustices and let them know they are not alone (especially if you know its something you wont forget about and will carry with you if you don't) It's ok to have fear, finding ways to accept we can not always change the world but we can have small ways of making a difference. Always remember that implementing cultural responsibility for self is to NOT READ THE COMMENTS on Facebook / social media. We can educate with the willing participant, the unwilling participant will always come from yeah but.... We are not responsible for their ignorance.