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Nurturing Indigenous culture in design

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

This time last week, I had the absolute privilege of being a keynote speaker at the inaugural Indigenous Design Symposium hosted by the University of Melbourne.

I gave my speech, Nurturing Indigenous Culture in Design,which shared our law firm, Terri Janke and Company's insights on IP laws, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property, as well as our True Tracks Protocols and how to embed protocols in design practice.

On Friday, I also had the opportunity to take part in a Yarning Circle with some of the other Symposium speakers.

With Dr. Albert Refiti, Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland. We both took part in the Yarning Circle.

With Dr. Albert Refiti, Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland. We both took part in the Yarning Circle.

The theme of the Symposium is,

Go Back to Where You Came From: Indigenous Design - Past | Present | Future.

Through this theme I was able to tap into my own Filipino heritage, with a Philippine national proverb being,

“Those who do not look back at where they came from, will never get to their destination.”

I reflected on and shared this in my speech in my own Cebuano indigenous language.

So much more than this though was what I learned. Over 3 days, I met so many talented and prolific Indigenous creators from around the world – architects, typographers, visual artists, interior designers, fashion designers, writers, planners, researchers and educators from South Africa, United States, New Zealand, Canada, El Salvador, Samoa, and of course from home in Australia. They shared their design values, processes, failures and successes.

They’re also just really amazing humans to hang out with. We had the opportunity to spend a day exploring Brambuk Cultural Centre in Halls Gap, Gariwerd (Grampians). We learned some boomerang throwing and didgeridoo playing techniques, tried bush tucker foods, and got architect Greg Burgess' insight to his design consultation and collaboration process in creating Brambuk as a special place for living Indigenous culture.

Through these experiences, I absorbed so many different perspectives and lessons that will only make me better at the work I do as a lawyer protecting Indigenous creators' legal and cultural rights.

Thank you very much to Jefa and the University of Melbourne School of Design team for the invitation!

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