In our modern world, topics like sovereignty, border control and environmental sustainability dominate current affairs and popular culture discussions. With a Welcome to Country that was more akin to a journey traversing thousands of years in a matter of moments, Shaun Nannup – who describes himself as a human being, an Indigenous man and a father whose purpose in life is to connect people through his stories – challenged the perceptions of delegates on these matters through a series of questions and Noongar ancestral stories.
What is a Welcome to Country?
Shaun’s first question was met with nervous silence; yet with gentle encouragement he drew out the replies: it’s about ownership; recognising the original owners of the land; welcoming people to Aboriginal land.
He smiled. We have never owned the land. The land is our mother. How do you own your mother?
He asked: How do you identify with country? What is your connection to land, this Wadjuk land?
Shaun explained everything is energy; we have a relationship with everything. We are never alone. We are always connected. Connected to the spirits of our ancestors, connected to the land.
The land, he said, gives us food, gives us water; this giving is done without thought, [the land] just gives. He advocated our perspective on sustainability might be refocussed from one of making sure the planet is sustainable for us, to one where we make sure we are sustainable for Mother Earth.
Shaun softly chided: Never underestimate your mother!
Written by April Nicholls, Road Trauma Support WA