Homecoming by Elfie Shiosaki

January 06, 20243 min read

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Homecoming was a touching multi-generational account of the lives of Elfie Shiosaki’s family.

Throughout the text, there was a vivid connection to land and country, and Shiosaki’s poetic words interspersed between real, historical recordings and letters gave this read an almost magical air.

Shiosaki pieces together her words along with her ancestors, bridging the gap between time and space to deliver truth-telling. It takes us along the cold, inhuman system of taking children away from their families, with first-hand accounts of the grief and trauma this inflicted. We see the self-determination process before our eyes, with Shiosaki collating letters throughout the 1900s of First Nation warriors who fought against the cruelty and discrimination that was inked into law.

It was an evocative read reminding us that what we have now, must not be taken for granted, how far we’ve come, and how far yet we still have to go.

The sunlight of tomorrow will warm the surface of the water, make her molecules speed up and move so rapidly that, tightly packed and vibrating against each other, she will escape into vapour, leaving behind the salt from the tributary. Suspended in air, rising high into the atmosphere, she will cool down again and condense. Returning to water, she will gather to form clouds and precipitation, drifting over the Darling Ranges towards the Indian Ocean.

Koorlang’s father never turned up.

As the footsteps became louder, Ngangk covered Koorlang with her woollen winter coat, tucking her golden red curls in. Koorlang was too small to know this game. All she knew was that she must be so still, so quiet, make herself so small, smaller than the white dots in the night sky.

The policeman called out, “just a gin”.

Koorlang pressed her small cheek deeper into the sandy clay soil.

the baby was sick
we went to the hospital
but the hospital wouldn’t accept us
they wouldn’t accept Aboriginals
we went home
back to our house in Moora
the baby died in our house
Aboriginal people were treated differently
always in your life you were different
you weren’t treated the same as everybody else
that was a traumatic experience

I know from experience
when I was among some white people
I’d wish I was like them
just white
when I was among Aboriginals
I’d wish I was like them
I didn’t want to be white
You just want to be accepted by everybody - Helen Shiosaki recorded.

Read on 20th September 2023

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