In 2013, the Australian South Sea Islanders (Port Jackson) applied for funding from the Christensen Fund which is a philanthropic organisation that believes in the power of biological and cultural diversity to sustain and enrich a world faced with great change and uncertainty. Their support will assist greatly the much needed trust building between the Australian South Sea Islander (ASSI) communities and their Pacific Islander communities of origin.
This will be achieved through maintaining an on-going dialogue and sharing of information through workshops relating to ASSI/ Pacific Islands sustainable cultures, land and sea traditions, history preservation and lifestyles.
Last month, a four-day Solomon Island workshop saw great success and over 200 participants from the 10 provinces of the Solomon Islands.
Those from Australia who attended were – Emelda Davis – ASSI.PJ president and workshop facilitator of Vanuatu descent, Danny Togo ASSI.PJ VP (Vanuatu descent), Leona Byquar DASSI Sunshine Coast Secretary (Solomon Island descent), Zac Wone Indigenous Deputy Chair of the Young Labor Party (Vanuatu descent), Professor Clive Moore from Queensland University and Graham Mooney Educator, Cultural Mentor, Spiritual advisor and Activist (Solomon Island and Vanuatu descent).
Four days of sharing of information included much debate and screen culture on Australian South Sea Islander history along with evidence based documentation that could be used as tools of information in spreading the word.
There were three booklets provided to participants;
- Historical facts on ASSI history
- Labour trade diaries
- ASSI QLD State Archives – all are available for download at the bottom of the page.
Professor Clive Moore shared a powerpoint presentation on some of the useful tools in archives and other records in tracing family along with leaving participants ASSI historical DVDs and a detailed list of over 48,000 names with all powerpoint presentations and notes for ongoing workshops.
The most organic and profound outcome was that discussions around how to progress this work in days, months and years to come would be to form an interim committee that represented the 10 provinces of the Solomon Islands and before our eyes we had articulate, culturally connected and educated peoples from all of those provinces being nominated and voted to sit on the committee with much enthusiasm.
It was unanimous from those participants in the room that the committee be formed there and then and named Findem Baek Famili Association.
Those members of the interim committee are Cecil Ono(chair), Jones Sanga, Rose Haro, Benjamin Farobo, Ann Mildred Irobiu, Hubert Bongoiko, Joseph Pinita, Michael Tolingikirio, Rex Ringi, Alfred Ngilia, Hilda Toosi, Joylyn Steven, Meshullum Soma. This committee were conscious of gender equality and diversity in all areas and creed.
All the elements of an emotional and confronting workshop were there in that we commemorated, rejoiced, cried and walked away with a strong and positive foundation to further our Findem Baek Famili bilateral relations through self determination and empowerment. The committee will continue the very important work needed in collaboration with Port Jackson and community groups.
The strategy is to work in with the Solomon Islands National Museum in providing space for ongoing workshops that allow knowledge, archives and supportive agencies space to develop further reconnection with identity and reclaiming family.