My name is Nova Garnier. I am a proud Indigenous Australian with blood ties into the Torres Strait Islands and Palm Island. I grew up on Noongar Boodjar (country) in Western Australia, and am currently living on Larrakia land in Darwin, Northern Territory.
I acknowledge the Larrakia people, whose land I currently reside. I thank them for allowing me to live on such beautiful country and I acknowledge their deep connection to both the land and sea. I pay my respects to Elders both past, present, and emerging.
Today’s blog is about a subject I hold very close to my heart and is a big part of the fabric of my being. I hope this blog brings some education and understanding around what it’s like to be a light-skinned blakfulla in 2020 and empowers others who may be feeling a little lost, and show them that they are not alone on their spiritual journeys.
“You’re too white to be Indigenous”
“Yeah but you’re not like the others ones. You’re one of the good ones”
“What percentage are you?”
My whole life I have heard these remarks. When others questioned my identity, it made me question my own identity. Growing up on the other side of the country, where my family was not from, I felt lost and like I didn’t belong.
It’s only in recent years, after reaching out to family and meeting other mob’s from all over, that I finally felt connected. It was at my first Indigenous Uni Games in 2016 in Brisbane (now known as Indigenous Nationals), that I credit to my full ‘spiritual awakening’. It was the energy in the room that awoke something in me. The energy in the songs, the energy in the dances, the energy that was sending vibrations throughout my entire body because of this collective group. Everyone just accepted each other for who they were. There was no questioning of identities, there were no ignorant remarks. Everyone just saw each other as their brothers and sisters. It helped me heal and I finally started accepting myself.
I’m still on my spiritual journey, and I still have days where I sometimes feel like I’m an impostor in my own skin. I’ve learned when this happens, to just breathe, lay down on the Earth, and have faith that the old people are guiding me and that I’m doing the right thing for myself and my people.
My roots now run deeper than these ignorant remarks.
My blood memory is strong and my connection with my ancestors is undeniably fierce. I draw upon their strength and their experiences to find my own power.
The education system let me down, and it let you down too. I’ve spent the last few years educating myself and decolonising my thinking. At first, it was my safeguard to have the ability and confidence to defend myself when my identity was being questioned by others. It has now grown into a necessity to walk in both worlds, to progress forward as a united Australia.
WE have the opportunity to move forward together, hand in hand, as one collective nation. A nation built on mutual trust and respect. A nation that recognises past wrongdoings, and commits to a better future. A nation that acknowledges and celebrates Indigenous cultures at its core. A nation in which all are welcomed and all are valued.
One of the projects I am actively involved in with Indigenous Business Australia is the Futures Forum project. At the start of this, we were asked to present our 50-year vision for Indigenous Australia, mine is as follows:
Aboriginality will not be defined by skin colour, geographical location, or social demographic, but in the DNA of the collective will be the DNA of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. In essence, the strong sense of self, belongingness, and connection that comes with that will flow through the veins of the generations 50 years from now. We won’t have to have NAIDOC and Reconciliation week because it will be a way of life. Every organisation will be embedded with this real and vibrant force and not just tokenistic.
Check out more from Nova below: