I was fortunate to recently attend a special screening of the documentary Kanyini that Social Ventures Australia held in Melbourne for some of their investors and other partners.

‘Uncle Bob’ Randle is an Indigenous elder living in the Mutitjulu community which is located at Uluru, 450 km south west of Alice Springs (Pitjantjara country).  He acts as our guide through this poignant film.  Uncle Bob is a child of the ‘Stolen Generation’ who has observed the decline in the health, wellbeing and vitality of his people – the “shrinking” of his people - as they have become detached from their “Kanyini”.  He manages to move beyond the anger and the sadness that this has created in many to tell the story of his people – the story of Australia – in a remarkable manner that you can’t help but be drawn in by.

Kanyini is explained to the viewer as being the connectedness of the individual to four concepts: a belief system; spirituality; land; and family.  Uncle Bob explains that, “a person is nothing without this connectedness.”  He feels that many Indigenous people are now stuck between two cultures; between two worlds.  They can’t go back to the old ways because the natural environment has been permanently changed, yet they can’t move into the mainstream system because many don’t understand it and they lack the education and literacy skills to succeed in it.  He comments, “Our classrooms are empty and our jails are full”.

Uncle Bob suggests that the past approach of ‘governments taking care of Indigenous people’ hasn’t worked.  Something has to change.  “Welfare is not the answer.”  We need a new way of teaching that incorporates the traditional with the Western so that the, “Indigenous mob”, can regain their pride – can “grow” - whilst also being able to succeed in the mainstream.

What sort of world could we live in if we all believed as Uncle Bob’s people do, that the, “Earth is our mother, we are all born from her”, and therefore, “we are all family” – you, me, the trees, the animals and everything else born from this Earth?  What sort of world could we live in if we lived with the discipline of Uncle Bob’s ancestors who were taught that you, “don’t take more than you need”, nor do you, “destroy anything that’s there to the level it can’t produce again”?

Despite being just an hour long this film carries a powerful message.  I believe that the film will be screened on SBS some time this year.  Alternatively, you can purchase a DVD copy from the Kanyini website – www.kanyini.com.  It’s well worth seeing.

Jun. 20, 2007

 Tags: recommended reading, general, education

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