I am reminded to keep an open mind…

I get the Koori Mail, a fortnightly national Indigenous newspaper which is 100% Aboriginal owned and 100% self funded. There are some great articles in this paper and it is one long reminder of all the good, strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people out there. Read this paper and you get a completely different view of Aboriginal Australia – I promise!

My favorite part of reading this paper is, that there will always be one story that challenges my own perceptions. Always. I know this says more about me, than about the paper, but I have a feeling that most white people would be highly surprised if they read this paper on a regular basis. For me it is a fortnightly reminder to keep a (very) open mind.

So what surprised me in this editions newspaper? An article on page 33 reporting from Western Australia’s Kimberly region, where Gordon Marshall, Aboriginal Elder from Derby County, has just become – for the seventh time – Worshipful Master of the Derby Masonic Lodge.

My favorite quote, after having blown my coffee all over the newspaper, was this: “It is not unusual for the Derby Masonic Lodge – one of 120 throughout the state – to have Aboriginal members. In fact, Mr Marshall says it would have closed some years ago without them”.

I confess from an honest heart that I did not see that coming: An Aboriginal Worshipful Master of the Masonic Lodge. A Mason Master. There you go!

 

 

Excuse me

I haven’t written anything for a few days because frankly, I should not be allowed to open my mouth at the moment. The slightest thing can get me in the foulest mood and the rants will not end.

I hate when this happens, I really do. It is not that everything has to be nice all the time; a good verbal thrashing is appropriate when it is due. But when everything becomes a load of sour grapes, I think I am better off in bed with tea, cookies and a novel. So I’m not going to get started. I will just excuse myself and see you when I’m in a better mood.

 

Autistic Superstars

If you have some time to kill, I have the feel good youtube clips for you! Welcome to the Autistic Superstars, a UK documentary in two parts about some really special young people. They have the X-Factor like you have never seen before. Each clip is approximately one hour long, so there is plenty of entertainment to go round.

After finishing high-school, I worked in a variety of institutions for children and young people with special challenges. Some were disabled, some had had a hard start on life, some both. I even finished a degree as a Social Educator.* In my late 20s, after 10 years in the job, I realised I that I could not do it any more. It was a really difficult decision to change career as a lot of dedication went into the job. And I have some really special memories from this time including a lot of laughs. Autistic Superstars reminded me just how special those years were, how meaningful and also how hard. There are some really special people out there and they are followed by another group of superstars: their parents and carers. I bow in the dust for their strength and dedication.

So grab your popcorn, bring out your box of tissues and invite your girlfriend over.

Autistic Superstars Part 1

Autistic Superstars Part 2

*In Danish it is called Socialpaedagog

Grocery shopping? That is two hours drive from here!

In mid-April I reviewed the Indigenous section of my Sunday morning paper. I wondered how the local residents here in Cairns would cope if the food prices were 50% higher than the rest of the country, the government let a mining company blow up a local church and then cut their water supply, sewage and garbage removal.

In the mean time, the story from New South Wales about supermarket prices being 50% higher in Indigenous communities, has moved to another level. I almost fell off my chair when I read this.

In Wilcannia, where the local supermarket was being investigated for price-gouging, it suddenly decided to close. It is the ONLY supermarket and the town’s nearest supermarket is now at Broken Hill, two hours drive away. Few people have the option of travelling that far, so those who do, are helping to supply things such as baby formula and nappies. There is talk of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs bringing emergency supplies to the town.

WHAT IS GOING ON? This is not an aid-convoy in a third world country, though it sounds like it. This is New South Wales, Australia. It does my head in to read on one page that while the Australian Rugby League Commission has scored a $1 billion TV deal, children in remote communities are having their milk delivered as emergency supplies. For real? Oh yes, for real! Welcome home to Australia.

To read more, click here

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair is on this weekend and it is really, really nice. We went Friday morning, because I’m shooting an archery competition this weekend in Mareeba. I’m so happy that we made it. The art on display was VERY nice. It was also very expensive, but I really enjoyed it all the same. There were some prints I fell in love with, but at $265 a piece and thinking that 3 in a row would be the ideal, that is now just a dream. They were worth the price though.

One really pleasant feature of the art fair was the entertainment. There was a constant change in the many different dance groups and music, mostly Aboriginal dancers from the region. This is the Lockhart River dance group, which we (Mr Husband and I) thought did a real good job. I personally really like that there are so many kids in the group. Passing on culture is such an important thing.

Outside the venue, all sorts of other good things were going on, like the artwork being made on the spot from ghostnets (fishing nets that fishermen somehow do not think they are responsible for and leave as trash in the ocean). I really liked the turtle as the nets are one of the major reasons for turtle death in the Torres Strait. So appropriate.

If you are in the area or know someone who is here, I highly recommend going. If you have half a shopaholic in you, bring the big wallet. If I was rich I would have bought these Items from the Torres Strait. The headgear cost app $4000; I really like the one with the crocodile tooth in the middle. The metal item I didn’t check the price for; I probably would have fainted. But have a look at the artwork made out of the white feathers. Just amazing.

Australian Border Security

Danes have a vague idea that Australians surf, have red hair and say G’day Mate (say it again Signe, it sounds so funny). BUT! To my absolute surprise, the general knowledge about Australia has been overshadowed by one major factor: Export TV.

Many Danes have a miraculous knowledge about Masterchef Australia. They know who all the contestants are and will engage conversation such as “I cannot believe that Poh didn’t win” (who? what? hang on!) and are extraordinarily concerned about the strict Australian Border Control. How do we ever get into the country? It is ridiculous how many times I had to explain that IT IS NOT LIKE YOU SEE ON TV. No one seems to have registered that the largest felony is to not tick the box. If you tick the box on your entry card that ask if you have an item, nothing happens! Just tick the box! They forget to show that part on TV.

And I’m living proof that you can tick as many boxes as you think are relevant and still get in. I remember it as if I ticked five, but I can only remember four of them (memory is slow these days). It had to do with animal products (seal skin, bone figures and other stuff from Greenland), plant products (wooden artefact), food products (oh the list is so long) and then there was something with weapons and/or arms. I bought at handmade Finish fishing knife for Mr Husband

Notice that it has a shaft in birch tree and reindeer antlers, so there: three ticks in one item.

Nothing was confiscated, it all made it home. I made it home. I didn’t get a fine because I ticked most of the boxes on the freakin card.

OH! I remember. Tick five had to do with having been on a farm while I was away. Yep. They still let me in.

Memories

I baked a cake today and all the way through the process I had a long conversation with myself about the things I would write on this blog. It was so relevant, you have no idea. And wont have, because I forgot everything. That is one of  the really unfortunate things about post-jet-lag. No memory.

I did take a picture of the ingredients, just to make a happy food item. I scooped all the items into bowls because I didn’t want to advertise. Then I checked the recipe to make sure that all ingredients were in the picture (and that I was ready to go with the mixing). I had forgotten the sour cream. By the time I got it out of the fridge, I had also forgotten the I’m-not-giving-you-any-credit-if-you-don’t-pay-me, which seemed so important.

Weight watchers? ME? that is just because Australia doesn’t have Icelandic products. I didn’t know it until this very long trip away, but apparently we should not be able to survive without skyr. And I’m serious. No one should advertise for weight watchers when they make butterscotch sauce to go with their brownies (mr husbands idea, but I think he did some brilliant thinking on that one).