CQ woman spreads message of solidarity
For Gayle YowYeh, Reconciliation Week serves as a reminder for all people to be more respectful of indigenous people, in general, and of their elders in particular.
She was one of several Central Queensland people who participated in a video project organised by the Central Queensland Indigenous Development organisation, while normal gatherings have been halted by Covid-19 restrictions.
“We have come a long way toward reconciling between indigenous and non-indigenous people, but there is still that minority who don’t understand because they haven’t been educated,” she said.
“We need our people to be part of the government, instead of under the government, so there’s someone in parliament who can speak on our behalf.”
Ms YowYeh’s mother’s side is Darumbal and her father’s family Byellee.
She finished at North Rockhampton High School aged 15 so she could work in a Denison St laundry and earn a wage, before embarking on further studies.
Graduating from Curtin University with a degree in Aboriginal community management, Ms YowYeh spent years with the Darumbal Community Service, taking care of homeless youth and teaching them basic living skills.
“We teach the kids they have to be more respectful of older people and listen when we tell them stories,” she said.
“We have maintained our dignity and our rights as First Nations people, and our young people need to learn that.”
But for all the successes indigenous people have had in terms of land rights and recognition, Ms YowYeh still experiences a near-daily dose of racism.
“I love to buy jewellery but if I walk into some shops the person behind the counter will look at me then go serve someone else,” she said.
“I think it’s very rude so I go spend my money elsewhere.
“It sometimes feels like indigenous people get less recognition than other people who have moved here quite recently.
“Among other things, Reconciliation Week is about making sure we don’t get treated like second-class citizens.”
The Reconciliation Week videos can be viewed on CQID’s Facebook page.