What is pride?
What is meant by shame in Aboriginal cultures?
On a general level pride refers to the ability to feel proud and happy about one’s own achievements or of a particular thing you are a part of. Specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, this would encompass positive feelings and association with their cultural identity and Aboriginality.
Shame on the other hand, is the response a child has to ‘personal failure or inadequacy,’ which in an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander context can result from the “deep seated feelings of shame and low self-esteem” that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience as part of the pervasive legacy of colonisation and dispossession. It can come out in reluctance to speak or take action in front of others, or be seen to be standing out too much.
(SNAICC, Working and Walking Together, 2010).
Consistent exposure to discrimination, prejudice and negative stereotypes about your people and community can result in shame. This can also create low self-esteem, pride, self-worth and self-respect for a child.In addition to this, the child could feel ‘shamed’ by the fact that they have been removed from their family and therefore begin questioning what they have done wrong!
“Pride is a part of your connectedness to your parents. Pride starts where you come from”
(Karen Salam, QATSICPP)
Why is pride important?
We know that children who have a strong sense of self-worth and see that they are valued become resilient adults. While carers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children need to constantly give them a positive view of themselves, this must also extend to presenting the child’s culture in a positive light so that the children can develop pride in the richness of their cultural background. Our personal identity is very closely connected to our cultural identity.
“As carers you will be aware of the importance of constantly giving children a positive view of themselves. This must also extend to the child’s culture so that the child can develop pride in the richness of their cultural background.”
(SNAICC, Foster Their Culture, 2008)
An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child who has the opportunity to allow his or her culture, identity and spirituality to develop and emerge during childhood has a sense of strength, confidence and pride that has the potential to guide and protect him or her through adolescence and adulthood.
“The sense of Indigenous pride engendered in the home will empower Indigenous children to deal with racism.”
(SNAICC, Improved Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Families in Early Childhood Education and Care Services: Learning from Good Practice, (2012))
Encouraging pride through cultural connectedness
Making sure the child is proud of their Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture
Establishing what some of the child’s cultural practices are and support them
Through the role of art, explaining Aboriginal symbolism and its significance to the child
Having information on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags. It’s also good to have in and around your home artifacts or a selection of books.
Through story telling, painting, dancing, food, ceremonies, language
Attending community events and celebrations
The child’s identity can be further built by creating an ‘identity bundle’.
Encourage them to create a journal – oral or visual (depending on age) with stories and photos of key family members and good things that happened during the time they were still with their family
Promoting the child’s culture positively and showing an interest in the child’s cultural identity will help them feel more comfortable. Allow the child to take any possessions which tie them to their culture with them entering care, for example, didgeridoo, clapsticks, flags, pictures
Developing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ‘Life Book’ – oral or visual, which is a book or document where the child can collect cultural and personal information about him or herself. In this way the child can create a document of their cultural journey and growth.