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NAIDOC WEEK: “Moa Island will always be homeland for me”

Isaiah Levi: “The NAIDOC theme – ‘Always was, always will be’ – is what we say because you can’t take the land away from the traditional owners.”

ISAIAH Levi visited Moa Island, in the Torres Strait, for the first time when he was 16 and he immediately felt at home.

Moa Island is the home of his family on his mother’s side.

Isaiah, 18, is a Year 12 student at St Columban’s College, Caboolture, and he told his story as part of Brisbane Catholic Education’s Deadly Yarns series for NAIDOC Week (November 8-15).

“I grew up in North Queensland – Townsville, and Weipa, and I am a Torres Strait Island man on my mum’s side,” he said.

“My family is from Moa Island and we are strong with culture.

“We do a lot of traditional things and share these with our friends and extended family.

“My grandmother’s brother, Bernard Namok, designed the Torres Strait Island flag.”

Moving to Brisbane when he was six years old “was a big deal after living in Weipa and Townsville”.

“Now my North Queensland family call me a big-city boy,” Isaiah said.

“I’m used to it but I love to get back up north in the holidays if I can.

“I went to Moa Island for the first time two years ago, when I was 16.

“As soon as I got there, I immediately felt at home.

“It is hard to explain it, but I had this feeling I was back in my country and it was awesome.

“Moa Island will always be homeland for me.”

That’s where his Athe (grandfather) and Aka (grandmother) live.

“My Athe is my inspiration. He is wise, cultural and a man of faith. He is all about love and forgiveness.

“He speaks and I listen …

“As the oldest grandchild I need to listen to him and pass on the wisdom and stories to the younger children.

“The NAIDOC theme – ‘Always was, always will be’ – is what we say because you can’t take the land away from the traditional owners.”

Isaiah said the Black Lives Matter protests this year “has brought everyone’s attention to mistreatment in the past and which is sometimes still happening”.

“It is good to see people addressing the problem,” he said.

“No-one should be bullied because of their skin colour.

“I think these days people are more likely to help and defend you if someone is being a bully towards you because of your skin colour.

“I think little things make a big difference. Be nice, be respectful and be inclusive of others.

“If someone is looking like they are alone then just go up and say hello – that is my advice.”

Isaiah said he had learnt from his Athe and elders, and felt he could now help and support others.

He’s proud to have a leadership role at school as a house captain.

A keen sportsman, he plays for the Broncos Men’s NRL touch football team and was selected for the Australian Schoolboys Touch Football squad and the School Rugby Sevens Indigenous team.

“But I tore my (anterior cruciate ligament in the knee) and had to have surgery, so I couldn’t play,” Isaiah said.

“I cannot wait to be back out on the field playing touch and rugby.”

Isaiah is completing his Year 12 exams and hopes to get a plumbing apprenticeship or join the army when he finishes school.

“I am looking forward to the future – finishing my exams, hopefully starting an apprenticeship, and playing more sport,” he said.

“This Christmas I am going up to Moa where I’ll go hunting, fishing and just living the island life. Life is good.”

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