By Kyran Dixon, National Reconciliation Coordinator at Canteen
Everything I do at Canteen as the National Reconciliation Coordinator comes back to one thing – my own experience as a proud Kaurna and Narungga man and cancer survivor.
Each year when NAIDOC Week rolls around (4-11 July this year) I start to feel more and more a shift in the way we mark and celebrate this week. This year it’s special to me as we move a bit further along in our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan at Canteen.
What makes me proud to see is the steps we’ve taken in a short period of time, albeit overdue. It’s early days, but the sheer appetite and willingness to make this a strategic priority across for our organisation – not just celebrating NAIDOC Week and forgetting about it until next year, but it truly being a focus all year long – is a great thing.
We’ve had 137 young First Nations people become a part of Canteen in the last year and be supported by our staff and online support services. We’re proud of this but we also acknowledge there is more work to be done, and more people to support.
That’s why this NAIDOC Week it’s my responsibility to encourage and support Canteen to participate, to take ownership and to celebrate the many cultural events happening around Australia that help to build our relationships with First Nations communities. Supporting First Nations people impacted by cancer is a priority for us.
If ‘Heal Country’ – the theme of NAIDOC Week this year – is about seeking greater protections for our lands and cultural heritage, then I think every single person has a part to play, the same way that everyone at Canteen seeks to drive better cancer care and support outcomes for every single young person aged 12-25 who comes to us for help.
Kyran Dixon is the Deputy Chair of NAIDOC South Australia.