Because of Her We Can: Cathy Freeman

In light of NAIDOC’s theme this year, I have decided to share some words over the coming days about a couple of First Nations Women who have impacted my life. There are numerous aunties, cousins, friends and grandparents whom I wish to reference.

Aunties who spent their weekends coming down to touch football carnivals to cheer on their nephews and nieces. Nanna, who needed a walker to get around, cheering me on during soccer grand finals. To this day, I can hear her voice amongst the crowd shouting “Go Lifuy!”, my middle name from my Kanaka roots.

In Indigenous culture, the women hold a lot of responsibility. Women are in charge of resources management, children’s education and are included in the tribes’ decision-making process (depending on their respective tribes).

Cathy Freeman

Cathy is a great athlete, disciplined and driven, traits which I aspire to and attributes that I practise and improve every day. Cathy impacted me in a massive way in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. I remember being glued to the screen with the family around. All I saw was an Australian dressed in the country’s colours about to run a race.

My family around me had watery eyes and my Nanna was very emotional that night. I actually thought it was because she was a blackfulla running for Australia or maybe a distant cousin through the Woorabinda mission.

Everyone in the room went quiet.  “Set” and “Gunshot”. Towards the final bend, it was a no-brainer that Cathy was going to win. Our living rooms erupted with noise, Sydney was going crazy and Cathy crossed the line to win Gold.

After the family cuddle and quieten down, so does the rest of Australia. There is a brief silence as we follow Cathy on screen. She grabs the Australian flag and the Aboriginal flag. My father who is Anglo-Australian exclaims “about time”, my grandmother breaks down in tears and my mother is completely speechless.

Cathy Freeman, in one single moment, brought centuries of war, fighting, cultural, land rights disputes and racial bias to oblivion as this great south land celebrates a hero.

It was at that moment that I realised exactly who I am as a half-caste. I was from two colliding worlds. I have always been proud to be Australian but now I am proud to be an Aboriginal, a descendant of the Kabi Kabi and Birri Gubba peoples.

Because of Cathy, I can be unimpeded in my pride for the symbolic yellow, black and red.

Written by Isaac Harrison  – Director at Bunjil Energy

Isaac Harrison

Isaac Harrison – Director – Bunjil Energy

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