Isaiah Levi - Year 12 student at St Columban's College, Caboolture
IN celebration of NAIDOC Week we are publishing the last in our series of Deadly Yarns articles - sharing the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people connected to Brisbane Catholic Education. Isaiah Levi is 18 years old and a Year 12 student at St Columban’s College, Caboolture. Last year he received a QATSIF leadership award. A keen sportsman, he has been selected for both the Australian Schoolboys Touch Football squad and the School Rugby Sevens Indigenous team. He is currently completing his Year 12 exams and hopes to get a plumbing apprenticeship or join the army when he finishes school... and play more football. This is his story.
I grew up in North Queensland - Townsville, and Weipa, and I am a Torres Strait Island man on my Mum’s side. My family is from Moa Island and we are strong with Culture. We do a lot of traditional things and share these with our friends and extended family. My grandmother’s brother, Bernard Namok, designed the Torres Strait Island flag.
I moved to Brisbane when I was 6 years old and it was a big deal after living in Weipa and Townsville. Now my North Queensland family call me a big city boy. I’m used to it but I love to get back up north in the holidays if I can. When I do go up, we do a lot of traditional stuff like dancing and practicing for Cultural Ceremonies.
I went to Moa Island for the first time two years ago, when I was 16. As soon as I got there, I immediately felt at home. It is hard to explain it, but I had this feeling I was back in my Country and it was awesome. Moa Island will always be homeland for me.
My Athe (grandfather) and Aka (grandmother) live on Moa Island. My Arte is my inspiration. He is wise, cultural and a man of faith. He is all about love and forgiveness. He speaks and I listen – as the oldest grandchild I need to listen to him and pass on the wisdom and stories to the younger children.
The NAIDOC theme – Always was, always will be – is what we say because you can’t take the land away from the Traditional Owners. I think the future is about merging our Cultures and sharing the land.
What does it mean to be a custodian of the land? My Athe, takes care of the land of Moa Island. If something is damaged, he is the person to go to. He is the wiseman of the Tribe. My grandfather is amazing.
I have learnt from my Athe and Elders. I feel I can now help and support others. I am proud to have a leadership role at school (House Captain) and to be in the Broncos Mens’ NRL Touch Football team. I was selected for the Australian squad for Touch Football but I tore my ACL and had to have surgery, so I couldn’t play. I cannot wait to be back out on the field playing touch and rugby.
What are my hopes for the future? The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests this year has brought everyone’s attention to mistreatment in the past and which is sometimes still happening. It is good to see people addressing the problem. No-one should be bullied because of their skin colour. I think these days people are more likely to help and defend you if someone is being a bully towards you because of your skin.
I think little things make a big difference. Be nice, be respectful and be inclusive of others. If someone is looking like they are alone then just go up and say hello – that is my advice.
I am looking forward to the future – finishing my exams, hopefully starting an apprenticeship, and playing more sport. This Christmas I am going up to Moa where I’ll go hunting, fishing and just living the island life. Life is good.
Brisbane Catholic Education Office
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