Indigenous Graduation - A time to be remembered

My Journey
- By Gabrielle Benchetrit

Hello everyone, my name is Gabrielle and my journey has only just started. This year is the first year of which I have finally been given the privilege to identify as an indigenous student. The reason for this being later in my teen life is because we have not been able to find any written proof and documents of my great grandma of whom has passed.
My family do believe that from some of the stories she would say and the mystery to her childhood, that she was in fact part of the stolen generation and grew up in an orphanage. My family have recently been traveling to see if they could find any written documents whatsoever of her, but they all had gotten rid of them.
Having my great grandma pass before I was born, kept me from the reality of what the past generations from my family were like. This is exactly why I have enjoyed being in the schools indigenous program, so I can have that chance to learn about my families culture and where we are from and hopefully pass it onto many more generations to come.
As soon as I was welcomed into the program at school, I felt automatically at home, and due to the stereotype of an indigenous person having darker skin, I thought I was not going to be treated the same or even welcomed as part of such an amazing family. But this was definitely not the case.
Uncle Jeff has given me the opportunity to learn songs which I sing in the local language, traditional dance and dress. Uncle Jeff and Mr Dolejs have been inclusive of me and my family. I have had opportunities to demonstrate my cultural to the whole school at Chisholm and now to speak here. I have a little sister who loves the Indigenous program too.
As soon as I walked in, I was welcome and treated the same as everyone else. Going through this program has taught me that it does not matter how light or dark your skin is and it has also taught me how past generations have lived and it is truly an honour being able to experience all of the traditional activities and being able to keep it going.
As I graduate at the end of this year, I will take away some of the most important lessons in life from my experiences which are: Family does not need to be bound by blood, it does not matter how your skin is represented you will always be welcome, our past generations have passed onto us some of the most greatest and amazing things in life of which you will definitely never get from anywhere else, and also that, my journey will not stop here.
After I leave I will continue to seek out more information on my family and culture, hopefully I will get the chance to volunteer with other indigenous students in the future ahead. This past year has taught me many things of which I will never forget, and the experiences have made a lasting impact on me and will definitely stick with me forever.
Thank you to our Elders, Brisbane Catholic Education, Chisholm Catholic College, Uncle Jeff and Mr Dolejs for making this happen for my family and I.

- Gabrielle Benchetrit (Year 12)