Photography for the 2017 Proud Kanaka Cup
In 2017 for the inaugural Proud Kanaka Cup, I was asked to capture the day in images.
Marion Healy developed the idea with her brother, going on to say: "My brother Joseph Fatnowna said, we gotta take these stories somewhere so everybody else will benefit from that history. So we thought, well, if we had a cultural day and then turned it around and put on a game, we could bring all the young people together to tell them that story. What we did was, Mackay has a football team that plays in the State league, they're called the Cutters and they were playing the Capras which is the Rockhampton team. So we said why don't we do the curtain-raiser to that game and we approached Rocky and said why don't they field a team and we field a team – bring them up a day earlier and we take them out and we walk them through the Mackay cemetery and tell them the stories."
The Proud Kanaka Cup was borne and continues every year.
The opening ceremony was conducted under the shade of the Leichhardt tree, a significant site for the Australian South Sea Islander community. Buses were provided to take the young players from Mackay and Rockhampton, plus the Elders of the community to show these young men their history. We were taken to the Mackay cemetery to the unmarked graves of the Kanakas first, where Elders explained to everyone the significance. Our next stop was at Dumbleton weir where I walked with other women down to the Pioneer River to listen to their stories. The men were taken to a cane field where we met them later.
This was an incredible experience, one I will not forget. The women stood by the river telling stories of their families in times gone by. It was such a privilege to stand with these women and learn a bit about Australian history. We then joined the men watching Elders cut the cane like they did back in the day teaching the players how to cut the cane. "Teaching them on who they are", says Marion.