At the Melbourne screening of ‘Before 1770’. A beautiful film exploring the journey, literally, of Australian Muslims to their earliest connections with Indigenous Australian people via Maccassans into NW Australia.

Delivered in a evocative and explorative way, 1770, unearthed song line, language and storytelling connections through interviews with Elders from Arnhem Land and academics.

This powerful film tackled both the issue of identity formation young Australian Muslims contend with, as well as the powerful truth that overwhelms the senses when you are truly welcomed to Country.

Much work lies ahead in educating Muslims of all backgrounds about the presence of Islam in Australia that outdates European presence by centuries. In fact, this film situates itself as an essential national learning tool that should begin a dialogue of recognition which is requisite to reconciliation.

I was personally moved by the authentic interactions in 1770. The responsibility that comes with the learning of these truths now falls upon viewers – to connect, educate and respect; it starts with us.

The audience was fortunate to have Nova Peris OAM OLY participate in a QandA panel after the screening, alongside producer, Sh @wesamcharkawi and an academic specialising in Indigenous Australian connections with the Muslim Maccassans.

Nova moved the audience as she shared  her family link to the Arnhem Land region and recollection of seeing Maccasan artefacts in her childhood home. She also spoke to the cherished history of Aboriginal people in this country, prior to European settlement – decolonisation- which included a mutually respectful relationship with the Maccasans. In particular, that this relationship was premised on welcoming and respect- bearing the hallmarks of a cherished connection. She called upon the audience to stand with Indigenous people in this country since our histories are shared – and that we are welcome on this land.

It was an incredibly emotional experience to hear this. People were collectively and clearly moved.

‘Before 1770’ looks set to redeem identities positively for Australian Muslims constantly tested on their right to belong here, and as one mother commented to me afterward of her teenage son :

“Thank you for suggesting I come to this film and  for giving my kids the chance to feel ok to be Muslim”

#endracism  #FirstNationsPeople #endracism #tasneemchopra #crossculturalconsultant #Before1770 #identityandbelonging #diversitymatters #connections  #storytelling #IndigenousAustralia  #knowyourhistory