Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders-in-Council Aboriginal Corporation (MMEIC) has scored the 2017 Caring for Country NAIDOC Award for their effort in preserving culture, country for future generations.
The Aboriginal Corporation was created as a vehicle for preserving, recording, communicating and teaching all persons, particularly the young, about the language and culture of Minjerribah and Moorgumpin.
It commenced in 1993 after the local aunts and uncles decided they needed an Elders group here to guide Aboriginal youth and educate them about culture and country.
Merl De Pell, Lynette and Norman Enoch are on the board of Directors of the MMEIC, and now they're using their role as Elders to preserve and pass on knowledge of their heritage and ensure their land, stories and culture of their people continue for years to come.
Merl De Pell: Caring For Country
Merl De Pell said her aim is to help guide young people and provide a safe place for sharing culture, stories and having a yarn with the community.
"Some of the young people were losing sight of where they wanted to be so the organisation wanted to help the young ones and also keep our traditions safe from being locked away in the cupboard," she said.
"It made us come out and share our stories. These stories some of us knew, but the young ones had no idea of and I think that over the years they’ve helped the young ones and continue to do so now."
Merl says she's working with the Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders for the love of her country.
"I want to keep it clean and save it so it so my children, grandchildren and so on can see what I saw as a child," she said.
"Caring for country is important to me and I’d hate to see it ruined too much of the mining that has been going on over the years. You can see the quiet nature, the lovely trees and I don’t want to see it destroyed, it should stay that way forever."
Lynette: Caring For Country
It is important for Lynette to help care for country, in fact It’s something she was taught to do ever since she was a little girl.
"It’s not just important for me, but also for the generations yet to come. If we don’t have the trees and the leaves we don’t have oxygen, so we have to maintain our land."
Lynette has a strong affinity with the land, she says it does more than provide nature, it works as a natural healer.
"When I’m feeling down I go out to the ocean, where I’ve lived for 70 odd years, and I go into the water. That's when I can feel all the tension go out of my body and I feel relaxed, calm again and at peace," she said.
"Out of all those words, peace is what we need to feel. Peace for ourselves, peace for our community. Also respect. If we don’t respect one another and don’t respect our environment then it’s all going to vanish."
Norman Enoch: Caring For Country
Norman Enoch was born and raised in Stradbroke Island. He sees his role at the Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders as the one that passes on knowledge and teaches kids all about culture.
"Its important the kids know about culture because we do it orally and we need to show the kids everything. It’s a way of preserving our culture, some of it is slowly dying but us elders are trying to keep it alive.
The traditional Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders keep photos as a record of their past history which is rich in culture, stories and traditions. Norman says now as an Elder, his role is to pass on, preserve and inform.
"We preserved this country; we’ve put in hard trails, plants and legends that teach the kids about bush tucker and how to look after mother earth so she can look after us," he said.
"This place is very special to me because my ancestors walked this land and It’s special to me because even though they had a hard time here, they walked these places before us. I feel close to them and that’s why it’s important for me to care for country."