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Mikayla-Haze Adams-Houston: ‘I can be a spokeswoman for all my people’

Mikayla-Haze Adams-Houston

Staying deadly: Aboriginal woman Mikayla-Haze Adams-Houston, from Lourdes Hill College, Hawthorne, is following the footsteps of her great-great-grandmother to continue the traditions of the Quandamooka people. Photo: Emilie Ng

ABORIGINAL woman Mikayla-Haze Adams-Houston has put her North Stradbroke Island people on the map after being named a finalist for the Queensland Training Awards.

The Year 11 student from Lourdes Hill College, Hawthorne, is a finalist for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year in the Queensland Training Awards’ metropolitan region.

Miss Adams-Houston was nominated after completing a Certificate III in Screen and Media at Brisbane’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community radio station 98.9FM.

The 16-year-old trained alongside radio and TV personality Jamie Dunn, best known as the creator of Agro, interviewing Australian and international indigenous people including Dan Sultan, Sam Thaiday and The Voice Australia 2017 winner Judah Kelly, among others.

“It definitely is an amazing feeling because I’ve put my island on the map,” Miss Adams-Houston said.

Born on North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah), the Year 11 student is a direct descendant of Lilian Lifu, known to the Quandamooka people as granny Dungoo, a South Sea Islander who became the first weaver on North Stradbroke Island.

“I would love to continue her legacy especially being her great-great-granddaughter,” Miss Adams-Houston said.

“I’m obligated to do it, there’s no getting out of it, and there’s no reason that I’d want to because it’s who I am, I can’t deny it.”

Miss Adams-Houston, who still lives on North Stradbroke Island, will think particularly of her great-great-grandmother as she prepares to celebrate NAIDOC Week from July 8, guided by the theme “Because of her, we can”.

It is also the theme for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday, celebrated in the Catholic Church in Australia on July 1.

“My inspiration is definitely my great-great-nan, Lilian Dungoo, because even though I didn’t know her, she taught me to be proud of who I am and my culture because no one can take that away from me,” she said.

“She was a strong, proud black woman.

“She went up against the white supremacy back in the day where the government went over to the missions that were established on the island and she took the children away, she risked her life, to teach them the language and teach them weaving.

“I reckon I’m a lot like her in a way because if I’m faced with difficulty, there’s no way I’m going to back down. I think that’s what my nan has passed down to me.

“She’s been such a great influence in that way, in teaching me to be a strong, young black woman in today’s society as well.”

One of the last people to learn weaving from Lilian Lifu was Aunty Margaret Iselin, a Quandamooka elder who died on May 5.

“It’s a big thing for us because without her, where is our history going to go?” Miss Adams-Houston said. “It’s all left up to the next women of all our generations.”

Her school’s elder in residence Quandamooka elder Aunty Joan Hendriks is also on Miss Adams-Houston’s list of inspiring women.

It was through Aunty Joan that the 16-year-old learnt about Lourdes Hill College.

“She’s also an elder back home, North Stradbroke Island, and she has guided me on a journey since I was a little Jarjum (child).

“She’s always been the person to push me, encourage me; she’s always been my shoulder to cry on when something goes wrong.”

Miss Adams-Houston is now planning a career in radio to speak up for all of Australia’s first nations.

“The second I stood in the studio I felt like I belong here,” she said. “People are hearing my voice. I’m not a nobody anymore.

“The media is a non-violent way where I can raise awareness about the indigenous people.

“I can be a spokeswoman for all my people, and that’s also very important to me because our people are faced with racism and prejudiced opinions and stereotyped on a daily basis.”

Winners of the Queensland Training Awards will be announced on July 7 in Brisbane.

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