Kaya, I’m Marnee

Kaya, I’m Marnee. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Behavioural Science and majoring in Environmental Management at the University of Notre Dame. I am an intern at Our Dilly Bag and thought it would be cool to share my story and how I have gotten to where I am today.

I grew up in a small cray fishing town just North of Perth called Jurien Bay which is situated in Yued country. Growing up I was never really surrounded by my culture. My father (where my Aboriginal comes from) was adopted out at birth and grew up in a very white English-Australian household far removed. I guess you could say the absence of culture was then passed on to my childhood. I always wondered what it meant to be Aboriginal and internally always felt like my identity was broken or missing something. During my high school years, I wasn’t very culturally driven nor passionate about Aboriginal culture and I believe this came down to a severe lack in knowledge. I did however, always found it strange that it was compulsory to learn a language like French or Japanese but to learn about Aboriginal culture, pre-colonisation, was almost unreachable.

A few years ago, my father was making some connections back to country where we discovered that his Mother (my grandmother) is from Nanatadjarra country which is North-East of Kalgoorlie. With this information I could feel my image that I have of myself growing and knew that it was culture that was missing from my life. I personally think that culture is essentially important for an individual’s personal growth and self-worth. Since finding my roots, my quality of life has enhanced dramatically and I now have this sense of belonging. I still have so far to go in expanding my cultural knowledge and growth, but I am also so proud of where I have gotten myself to in life today.

Over the Summer I completed an internship with CareerTrackers, which is a national non-profit organisation providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students pathways in the industries and professions in which they are studying. This internship program is an incredible community wishing to build a brighter future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. I was placed with a renewable energy company called Horizon Power and helped with the engagement in remote Aboriginal communities. I was lucky enough to support with a project that was being carried out on Ngaanyatjarra land, so got the chance to go out there.

Being out on country was an amazing experience and I met so many influential people. I felt a very strong connection to the land and will hold that feeling close to my heart forever. I could not thank the universe enough for this opportunity because it has pushed me in the direction I need to go in life. When I got back to Perth the first thing I did was change degrees from Marketing to Behavioural Science and Environmental Management because I knew that one day in the future I want to do something that can heal my people and preserve my culture.