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26th November 2019

"Our kinships are still here, and our culture is still strong" – Ethan Bell

By Ethan Bell

Image of "Our kinships are still here, and our culture is still strong" – Ethan Bell

Ethan Bell is a Dharawal raised, Ngunawal and Gamilaraay poet who led student workshops on Dharawal Country as part of Red Room Poetry in First Languages in 2019.

It was a great privilege to be able to work in the community that I grew up in. I always enjoy working with mob from Western Sydney. I am a proud Ngunnawal, Gamilaraay man yet I will always be connected to this beautiful country. Being able to learn the language of this country enforces my connection. I have had two white cockatoos come visit me every morning for breakfast since the day of the program. And I hope they will keep visiting. The more Dharawal I learn the better I can yarn with them. It is important we listen to our Elders when they are sharing with us their stories. I was able to meet Elders in the community that I have never met, and I also was able to catch up with old fella’s I hadn’t seen since I was a little kid roaming the streets. A few of the Elders in the Dharawal Men's Group done a lot for the generation I am from and to see that they are still giving all that they can is inspiring. Not only for me but for the kids. PILF is doing well in helping lay a platform for a culturally safe space. For the kids to meet and greet with Elders from other communities is intrinsic to helping them on their journey of identity. They leave the program knowing that it is encouraged to ask questions. That there is no shame in searching for who you are, it has been a continuous journey for all of us even the Elders. Especially our Elders. In addition to creating a safe environment for the students to share their own stories, PIFL also allows the children to feel more comfortable in communities outside where they live. By us all coming together we reinforce to our next generation that we as a culture have a duty help to one another that goes back to the beginning of time. Our kinships are still here, and our culture is still strong and living you can go anywhere in this country and be looked after.

It was also a significant moment to have my younger cousin Gary Dunn there.  Gary has come a long way and is a very strong young man. He is embarking on his journey of becoming an artist and learning his culture. He will be a strong leader one day and I feel needs to be supported so he is able to reach his true potential. I am thankful that Gary could join as a guest poet. I hope this has given him more confidence and fuel to continue his path.

I am also truly glad that I was able to meet Aunt Jodie again. I would really like to meet with Aunt soon because I feel like I do not know the proper way to speak my poem just yet and I would like to work with her on it. I want to become more learned in language so I can help teach it on program days. I also would love to learn how to weave! So please aunty Jodie take me under your wing!

I really enjoyed the day, I feel the children gained a lot of confidence in who they are as Indigenous peoples. The Poetry element of the program is so so good for us to heal and grow. The process of creative writing allows us to reflect on our past experiences, we can connect with each over our shared histories and draw strength. 

It was a great pleasure and again I thank you for allowing this all to happen.

Go to Ethan's profile to read his poems >