In a hashtag that went viral yesterday, #IndigenousMums was about recognition, admiration and giving thanks on a day designated for all mothers. The campaign was a collaboration between Amnesty International and IndigenousX, a rotating Twitter account used as a platform to hear different Indigenous people each week.
Kicking off at 7am on Sunday morning, right until sun down, each hour, a different Indigenous mother took over IndigenousX and shared her story on the social networking site. From young mums to business owners - women from all different walks of life gave insight into their personal experiences of being raised by an Indigenous mother and now being the Indigenous mother doing the raising.
Indigenous Mums Inspire
One of those special mothers selected to take part in the IndigenousX Mother's Day tweets was Wiradjuri woman Rae Johnston. Her story was powerful, inspiring and a reminder that women are strong and can do anything they put their mind to.
"I was a young mum. I was a young single mum. I was a young single Aboriginal mum."
"There were a lot of stereotypes with that, but I had the opportunity to show people that it’s absolutely possible to still achieve your dreams."
Rae, who hosts on NITV's The Point, was just 18-years-old when she fell pregnant, but despite that she was prepared and excited to welcome a new baby into the world, but not everyone believed in her.
"I had people tell me that my life was over. I don’t think those peple realised the strength we have in our families. Having kids is a blessing, you can still achieve everything and more you want to. It makes you better it gives determination to work harder," she said.
"Our mums our nans our aunties are all such strong resilient people. Together we're unstoppable to be able to celebrate that is fantastic, escpecially when there are misconceptions. The kids of things you see in mainstream news, not a whole lot out there celebrates how incredible our mothers are."
Rae says she's always had a fear about being a mum, but it soon went away as she was able to prove everyone wrong.
"I've always made sure my house is clean, I don’t touch drugs and would only ever have one glass of wine because im scared of that stigma. If I do anything wrong I wil just be labelled as 'an Aboriginal woman that did something wrong', that’s what we see all too often in the media – that’s the accusations we’ve seen thrown at our families," she said.
"But there is an element of proving people wrong and the #IndigenousMums was a really positive way to do so."
In August 2016, Indigenous people from across the country retaliated to an ‘offensive’ and ‘racist’ cartoon published by Bill Leak. The men and their families shared special experiences of fatherhood by uploading family photos and proud parenthood moments on Twitter under the #IndigenousDads hashtag.
Indigenous Rights Manager for Amnesty International and Nigena woman, Tammy Solonec says since that happened; Indigenous women have been working hard to profile all the wonderful Indigenous mums out there.
“We wanted to showcase all the Indigenous mums juggling work, businesses, parenting, studies, social lives and their families… Our aim is to counteract negative stereotypes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents.”
The mother of two says Amnesty International is running a campaign called ‘Community Is Everything’ with the aim being to end the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in juvenile justice.
“One of the most obvious ways to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is to help their parents. So we want to thank and recognise all the Indigenous people raising children,” Tammy said.
“Despite myths about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents, many are doing a great job raising children, even in difficult circumstances. We need to get behind them and support them.”
IndigenousX Founder and Gomeroi man, Luke Pearson, says IndigenousX is all about celebrating community and showcasing diversity.
“IndigenouX was a natural home for something like Indigenous Mums.”
#IndigenousMums was trending for most of the day, at one point it was even in the Top 5 trending hash tags and even went global. Using the hashtag there was 5,200 tweets and 4,600 retweets.
“The Indigenous mum that shaped me”
Cindy Solonec grew up on a sheep station called Debesa between Fitzroy Crossing and Derby and attended boarding school. Cindy wasn’t encouraged or expected to go past Year 10, but later in life she became interested in furthering her education. At age 36 with two teenage daughters and living in Marble Bar she began studying at Edith Cowan University on a block-release program. There she studied Aboriginal and Intercultural studies as an undergraduate, before going on to complete a Masters degree. Just last year Cindy graduated with a PhD in social history at UWA, proving to her children that if she can do it, so can they.
Like most women, Tammy says her biggest inspiration is her mum.
“I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it wasn’t for my mother,” Tammy says.
“My mum has been the backbone to my career, she pushed me to finish my education, complete my university degree and proceed to working hard, pursuing a career and always furthering my studies, and throughout all of this she has helped me care for my children”
Thinking about her own children now, Tammy says her mother’s inspirational values and morals have shaped the way in which she raises her own two children.
On a social media post she spoke about her 20-year-old son and 16-year-daughter saying ‘The thing I love most about them is their tenacity and strength’.
“Like many Aboriginal families, we’ve had our share of trauma but we’ve worked together and gotten through it with strength, resilience and love.”