In late November, NQCC was contacted by Nekina Whap - a local woman with family ties to Lag Mabuiag in Zenadh Kes. She had been following the "Our Islands, Our Home" case, led by the #TorresStrait8 and was personally touched and distressed by the impacts of sea level rise on low-lying islands throughout the Torres Strait. Watching the Australian Government celebrate NAIDOC Week triggered an overwhelming sense of anger for Nekina - "What do we have to celebrate? When this is happening in our country?". She knew she had to bring more attention to the issue.
She came up with the idea of a march - a public demonstration to raise awareness around the issue and gain signatures on the "Our Islands, Our Home" petition. Supported by 350.org (the organisation behind the campaign), 350 Pacific and NQCC, Nekina's idea became a reality.
On Saturday, 12 December 2020, we marched from the Strand's Rockpool to the Gregory St Amphitheatre, with banners and signs to indicate our support for the #TorresStrait8. We were joined by local climate activists and human rights advocates, as well as other concerned citizens.
At the amphitheatre, we heard Nekina's touching story (read it here), as she outlined the stark realities facing Torres Strait Islander communities as a result of sea level rise. We also heard from Mark, a young TSI man living in Brisbane, about his hopes and desires to visit his ancestral islands to help him connect to his culture, and his concerns that they are at risk of being lost forever. Lisa - a climate warrior from 350 Pacific - also presented, highlighting the similar issues faced by those living on low-lying islands throughout the Pacific.
This colourful and somewhat emotional demonstration was the planting of a seed for the community of Townsville. While about 30 people participated in the march along the Strand, our signs, banners and flags were seen by many passers-by and the touching speeches from the three presenters were heard by several curious onlookers.
The Torres Strait Islands are on the frontlines of the climate emergency, and without immediate and decisive political action on climate change, they face a tumultuous future. Please help by spreading the word and signing the petition to call our Government to account.