A tribute to Aunty Carol

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that this article contains the image and name of recently deceased persons. Images were used with permission.

There is so much to love and appreciate about Australia. And so much to celebrate about this country. But the 26th of January is not an occasion we can celebrate. It marks the moment when tens of thousands of years of culture were interrupted, then brutally curtailed, by colonisers. It is, for Australia’s First Nations – or, rather, the Nations before Australia was even a concept, a moment that began centuries of violence and oppression that persists today.

Instead, we use this day to pay our respects to a recently-lost ally in the fight to protect the environment and cultural heritage. Aunty Carol Prior was a proud Juru Elder and a leader in the movement opposing Adani’s massive Carmichael coal mine and export plans. Her country, including the Kaili Valley wetlands, is impacted directly by the Abbot Point (now “NQXT”) coal export terminal and the rail line transporting coal for export.

For years Aunty Carol stood up to Adani, defending sites of significant cultural heritage, and rallied many more to do the same. While she is no longer with us, we are grateful for her incredible legacy which many more will continue.

For a dose of Aunty Carol’s inspiration, watch her in the intro to “A Mighty Force”, or this speech back in 2017.

Today, we pay our respects to Aunty Carol, all Traditional Owners and their elders, past present and emerging, and acknowledge this land was never ceded. And we reaffirm our commitment to working in support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on major campaigns against dirty fossil fuels, where environmental protection and the protection of cultural heritage are equally at stake.

Always was, always will be.

Image credit: Stop Adani. Outside Adani’s Headquarters in Brisbane