World Indigenous Conference

27 October 2017

This year three of our University Hall (UniHall) residents travelled all the way to Toronto Canada to attend the World’s Indigenous People’s Conference on Education.

UniHaller Tyson in Toronto sight seeing

This conference elaborated on issues that included education, justice, health, the environment and more, through the different workshops and seminars that were held throughout the week. UniHallers Tyson, David and Sophie took away some invaluable advice and unforgettable memories.

Our UniHall Reporter, Dewi, caught up with Tyson who is a proud Ngarluma and Bardi man from the Pilbara country, and is currently in his second year majoring in Law & Society, along with Media & Communications. He has and continues to be greatly involved in The University of Western Australia (UWA) community, including being the 2017 UWA Student Welfare Officer, a member of the McCusker Centre Student Advisory Committee, and a member of the Leadership Program at UniHall.

“At an early age, I already knew I wanted to be a lawyer as people come to you for help and being able to assist them is a rewarding experience,” says Tyson.

Tyson said the opportunity to meet other Indigenous people from around the world was a real draw card and inspiration to attend the conference.

“It was also being able to engage in a positive and caring environment, where I could listen and learn from all the participants about issues that impact us all,” he says.

The humble conference presenters were so willing to share their works and encourage others to do the same regardless of who you are and without ulterior motives of profit or self-gain. This really stuck with Tyson as well as being exposed to new ideas and initiatives that other Indigenous people were doing in their community, with many having a positive and sustainable outcome.

One of his most memorable moments whilst being at the conference, was watching his Aunt Juli and her daughter Sophie presenting at one the workshops, in which he nostalgically recalled as a ‘surreal moment.’ He was also humbled by the opportunity of being able to talk to the Six Nations Elders, particularly the chiefs, who were all so welcoming of participants.

Whilst being in Canada, he seized every free moment to visit iconic landmarks of the beautiful nation. Some included the CN tower, Niagara Falls and the Kensington markets. He also immersed himself in the culture, where he sampled the delicacies and watched a baseball game. The opening ceremony itself was held at the Six Nation’s Reserve (which included: Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca and Tuscarora).

“It was ‘such an amazing place to visit, as you not only feel connected to the people, but also the land itself,” says Tyson

Tyson was inspired by the overall experience, and attending this conference helped fuel his passion to further address some of these issues back home. He organised events at UniHall for current resident and the wider UWA community.  One of which included an Indigenous Discussion Panel held at UniHall with The McCusker Centre, the West Australian Student Aboriginal Corporation and the School of Indigenous Studies.

This event brought community leaders together to discuss the successes, but also the challenges that are affecting Indigenous people and communities in WA today. In the future, he will continue to consult with UWA Guild Student Representatives, leaders and community members on how we can support Indigenous students on campus, and within their communities.

Our reporter Dewi asked for any advice Tyson would give to all of us to reflect on some of the current issues faced in society.

“Challenge conversation and the characteristics of the negative views that are held in regards to Indigenous people, by understanding why they might occur and what influences are involved. We need to recognise the behaviours we ignore and those we deem acceptable. Most of all, we need to continue working together to keep the conversations going and help bridge the gap that is currently embedded in our society,” says Tyson.