Niketa Law with her mural artwork at Saint Mary's College, Kingaroy, - which forms part of the school's Bunya Dreaming Garden. (Photo source: South Burnett Online)
Niketa Law is a proud Wakka Wakka and Bindal woman, from Cherbourg. Her parents have worked with Brisbane Catholic Education for many years and her father, Uncle Eric Law, is a respected elder within the community and church. Niketa is school officer at Saint Mary’s College in Kingaroy and a talented artist. This is her story.
I was raised by parents who are dedicated to educating people about our Culture. My father, Eric Law, is heavily involved in the Ration Shed in Cherbourg. I would help him with students who were coming to our Country as an immersion experience – we, along with my mother Shirley, would take them up to the Bunya Mountains and guide them through the Ration Shed so that those kids could see the history and understand the Country they are on.
NAIDOC Week is important to me, particularly as I work in a school. It is a proud week as we focus on celebrating our Cultures and we gather with family in one place. During NAIDOC week we all walk a bit taller because there is a focus on celebrating our Cultures.
To me, this year’s theme ‘Always was, always will be’ is a true but simple message. I’ve always known that this land always will, and always will belong to First Nations People. It is good to gently remind all Australians about this during NAIDOC Week.
Being a Custodian of the land is a role that is often under-appreciated. We do not own, and no one owns the land, but as First Nation Peoples we are connected to it through our Cultures. If we look after the land, the land will look after us.
In my Culture we take our totem from our mothers, so mine is a brolga and I will pass this onto my children. When I see a brolga or an image of a brolga, I think about how it acts. Brolgas are patient and considered, they think before reacting. I hope to take on these qualities in my life as well.
Education is pivotal for in creating an equitable future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and that is why I work in a school. I can talk to children daily about the history of this land. These students will then go home and have a conversation with their parents and grandparents, teaching their family about what they have learnt. It builds understanding. Now is an exciting time as more people are understanding and appreciating our histories and Cultures.
I am proud of the work I do at Saint Mary’s College. I am at my happiest when I can combine my art with my work, and share this with the students. I am blessed to be able to share my knowledge on different subjects in the classroom, this makes me proud and I am always happy to get involved in class projects. Sometimes the questions I get blow my mind, it is exciting to think my time with the students has stimulated their young minds.
There is one small action I think will make a big difference. Respect. My parents drummed into me the importance of showing respect for others from the time I was a little girl. I respect everyone, especially people who are older than myself. If we respect and listen to each other all our lives will improve. If respect was always applied, our Country would have a very different history.
My hope for the future is simple – for all Australians to respect and accept us as the First Peoples of this Nation. Once this happens our world will be a better place.____________________________________________________________________________________________
Niketa's story is part of the Deadly Yarns series developed by the BCE NAIDOC working group in the lead-up to NAIDOC Week events 8-15 November.
Brisbane Catholic Education Office
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