NAIDOC week celebrates 'Because of her, we can'

Christina Ugle holding a portrait of her grandmother Kathaleen Northover (nee Mears) with her mother Phyllis Ugle. Photo: Breeanna Tirant
Christina Ugle holding a portrait of her grandmother Kathaleen Northover (nee Mears) with her mother Phyllis Ugle. Photo: Breeanna Tirant

This year NAIDOC Week is celebrating the theme ‘Because of her, we can’ right across the country, which acknowledges the role that women have played - and continue to play as active and significant role models.

Wilson Park Primary School Noongar language teacher Kristina Ugle, said NAIDOC week, to her meant the ‘acknowledgement for the first Australians.’ 

Ms Ugle said she speaks and teaches Noongar, the traditional Indigenous language to the South West because the women in her life weren’t able to.  

“My inspiration is because mum wasn’t taught her culture or her language and grandmother wasn’t able to teach language or practice her culture because it was forbidden,” she said.

“Knowing my mum’s history and her upbringing from being apart of the Stolen Generation at the age of two and placed into Roelands Mission, which they called the native mission down the bottom of the hill in Collie is what more or less drove me to learn language.

“They were urbanised to be able to fit into society. So when they left the mission they knew English, they knew how to read, they could fit in better.”

Wilson Park Primary School Language teacher Kristina Ugle with her son Shelden Turvey. Photo: Breeanna Tirant

Wilson Park Primary School Language teacher Kristina Ugle with her son Shelden Turvey. Photo: Breeanna Tirant

Ms Ugle first started learning the Noongar language when she was working at Amaroo Primary School. 

“The opportunity came up when I was working in the Aboriginal kindergarten at Amaroo and I was approached to become a Noongar teacher and it just went from there,” she said.

“I graduated in 2008 but it took five years before a school took me on. Within Collie, Wilson Park is the only school that teaches the language curriculum.” 

She said she doesn’t preach her culture, but educates people about it. 

“I get questioned a lot about what is Noongar language? Isn’t it like another Aboriginal language? How come they’re different? Why are they different? I think Australia is lacking of that history regarding the first Australians. It’s that lack of knowledge. The schools don’t have knowledge of us, so therefore they don’t touch on the topic in schools and I think it should be taught.”