Pambula resident Nathan Lygon believes reconciliation is everyone’s business.
Speaking during Reconciliation Week, the Twofold Aboriginal Corporation’s 2016 Naidoc Youth of the Year has called on all Bega Valley citizens to do their bit to encourage healing.
National Reconciliation Week is held annually on May 27 to June 3 to mark significant milestones in the journey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
But this year it is even more special as May 27 marked 50 years since the referendum of 1967, and 25 years since the important Mabo decision, which acknowledged Aboriginal people's traditional and legal connection to the land.
“We’ve still got a lot of issues and a long way to go, but we have come a long way and I am optimistic about the future,” Nathan said.
The 22-year-old who works with youths at Campbell Page, said every step towards educating Indigenous and non-Indigenous children is a step towards a better future for all Australians.
“I think if a lot of Indigenous kids learnt their culture and understood a lot more they would be more proud of who they are,” he said.
“But non-Indigenous kids also need a way to be able to identify with the Aboriginal culture and take on a custodial role, to become more involved with the land, to be a part of the culture.”
After a traumatic experience when he was 18, Nathan “went of the rails” for a while, but he said it was his connection to his Indigenous culture that brought him back.
Now he spends his time trying to be the role model that he could have used during this time.
He said that as a man with Indigenous and non-Indigenous heritage he understands the positions of people on both sides of the equation.
“I have one side of my heritage, my Indigenous side, that is not in the best way and my non-Indigenous side feeds into the hardship of the other. Reconciling that duality has been a big part of my healing,” he said.
Going forward Nathan said he wants to see everyone making an effort to learn about and help preserve the Indigenous culture.
“We are all here and we need to heal if we are going to leave anything worthwhile for future generations.
“It’s too easy to get bogged down in the issues instead of looking at what’s changing and the good things that are happening, it’s getting better.”