“We are people of this time and this place. The ningher canoe project was never simply about making a canoe. It has always been about journeys. Journeys of acknowledging deep and profound loss. Journeys about recovery, relationships, healing and struggling to regain control. Of what it takes to make a journey in the hope of becoming whole once more.
Tasmanian Aboriginal people are honoured to feel the love of the broader community as we have undertaken this poignant and important cultural step in recovering our precious culture. There is no failure. A journey is a journey, regardless of its outcome. I see you all here with us on this journey, and I know that this small step we have taken has been successful beyond our wildest dreams, as you are here with us, believing in our commitment to our culture, to this place, and the possibility that we can do important things together.
We built and launched a ningher, a canoe, and for a short time it graced the waters of the Derwent River. For a short time, you saw the passion in our hearts for practicing our culture: right here, right now.
Although the canoe could not make the full journey here today, it still stands as a powerful achievement for all of us. For my people, it is a step forward, and although the journey may be painful, full of risk and expectation not realised at times, it is also a journey of hope, beauty, strength, healing and spirit. The journey is ours, and we are proud to have honestly shared it with you. What this journey has meant to others is not for us to say, but we are listening.
We give you our humble thanks in travelling with us during ningher canoe, and we invite you to keep travelling with us, as MONA and Dark MOFO have, to take small steps together, honestly, and in the spirit of becoming whole once more.
Cultural Producer Fiona Hamilton’s opening address at Waterman’s Dock, Hobart.