Building Indigenous RC in Australia

Marcie Rendon, the International Liberation Reference Person for Native Americans, and Darlene Daniels, a Native Canadian and the Area1 Reference Person for Winnipeg, Canada, came to the Pre-World Conference in Sydney, Australia, in 2009. At that time we had three Aboriginal people at the Pre-World. Marcie was subsequently invited to return to Australia to help with allies-to-Indigenous-people work. We needed her knowledge about working on oppressor patterns and healing the hurts of colonialism.

WORKSHOPS IN 2011 FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, PEOPLE OF COLOR, AND ALLIES

In 2011 Marcie came and led an Allies to Indigenous People Workshop. Darlene also came, and led a one-day People of Color and Indigenous People's Workshop prior to the Allies Workshop. The initial idea was that after the one-day workshop, we would combine the allies and Indigenous people at the Allies Workshop. Marcie made it clear to the Indigenous participants that the benefit of the Allies Workshop for them would be to learn how to counsel allies well. But it was too hard for the Indigenous people in the mostly white workshop, so Darlene led a parallel Indigenous workshop for the rest of the weekend. That was the beginning of our project.

THE 2012 INDIGENOUS PEOPLE'S WORKSHOP

Next we invited Darlene to lead an Indigenous workshop for all of Australia, which I would organize. I knew it would not work well if we held the workshop without building ongoing local Community support. Also, a workshop would make sense only if we did it with the aim of building an Indigenous RC Community. I encouraged key allies to connect with and back2 Indigenous leaders in their Communities. I then asked the Indigenous Co-Counsellors and the allies to recommend Indigenous people for the workshop.

I also contacted all the Indigenous people who had been involved in a significant way in RC in previous years and invited them to the workshop. Also, I encouraged them to do an introduction to RC for their Indigenous friends and families. I encouraged allies to do the same if they had Indigenous friends or family they’d like to have in RC. Any Indigenous people who came to the introductions would be invited to the workshop. My goal was for every Indigenous Co-Counsellor to have another Indigenous Co-counsellor in their RC Community. In the meantime, I asked key white allies to connect with each other and discharge about their struggles to get Indigenous people to the workshop. They formed a national Skype3 support group. I got funding from the Re-evaluation Foundation for the workshop and to bring people to it from around the country. I also encouraged allies to do fundraising, but not much happened with that. The Indigenous People’s Workshop took place in March 2012.

MORE COMMUNITY BUILDING

After that three-day workshop, Darlene spent four weeks traveling to seven RC Communities that had at least one Indigenous Co-Counsellor who was prepared to host her visit and did introductions to RC. (She also went to Aotearoa [New Zealand] to work with the Maori Community there.)

Things started to move after this. Some of the Indigenous people who had been at the workshop took fundamentals classes, and some of them wanted to introduce RC to their friends and family. The project went so well that we all wanted to do it again. So we decided that I would organize another Indigenous people’s workshop.

THE 2013 INDIGENOUS LIBERATION WORKSHOP AND THE PRE-WORLD CONFERENCE

The plan this time was that Marcie and Darlene would both come for four weeks before the Australia and New Zealand Pre-World Conference in March 2013 and we would hold an Indigenous workshop at the same site as the Pre-World.

Marcie and Darlene traveled around Australia, reconnecting with the Indigenous leaders they had met before. They shared in leading the allies work and the Indigenous work in the Communities they visited. At the end of their travel, Darlene led an Indigenous Liberation Workshop while Marcie attended the Pre-World and led allies’ work there. I attended the Indigenous Liberation Workshop as organizer and supporter.

The Indigenous people who came to this year’s workshop were better connected to their RC Communities and had a deeper understanding of RC. Many of them came with other Indigenous people from home. One focus of the workshop was for them to be better at using the discharge process and to build alliances with each other across the Regions4 of Australia and from that base build an Indigenous Australian RC Community.

A STATEMENT ON CARING FOR THE EARTH

During the workshop, the Indigenous people learned that one of the key issues for the Pre-World Conference was care of the environment. Together they decided to write a statement from their perspectives as Indigenous people, as the Indigenous people of the land where the Pre-World was being held. They did mini-sessions and a round of thinking out loud, wrote their key points on the board, and assembled their thinking into a statement that was read to the whole workshop. After feedback, they wrote a final statement and delivered it to Tim5 when he met with the Indigenous people on Saturday night. Tim read the statement to the Pre-World on Sunday morning. That statement follows.

Rie Shiraishi

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

(Present Time 171, April 2013)


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Last modified: 2017-05-10 04:36:22-07