Echoes of language and healing

05 July 2023
Christie Mancktelow
CQU Master of Research student Christie Mancktelow

Proud Ngugi woman and CQUniversity student Christie Mancktelow is carrying the spirit of her Elders through her research.

With rich connections to Moorgumpin/Mulgumpin and Quandamooka Country (Moreton Island) and Jinibara Country through her family lines, the Master of Research student is now dedicating her research topic to explore the language, identity and wellbeing of her Quandamooka community – an interest area which was inspired by her Elders.

“My interest and inspiration on this topic comes from my old people, and the sacrifices and risks they made to ensure we still had access to our culture and language,” Christie said. 

“I intend to continue my studies into a PhD in the hopes I can collectively, alongside my community, make contributions to research that impacts our communities in a positive way, and in turn contribute to the ongoing healing we need to do.”

As the eldest of seven children, Christie reflects on the influence her Elders had on her as she grew up, being taught resilience and strength as cornerstones to build their futures on – and how their lived experiences collectively shaped the direction of their futures for the better.

“From my birth, my grandmother Stella Rose Mancktelow, a Ngugi woman and our family matriarch, was involved in my life – and she was a strong, resilient and patient woman who never allowed the negative experiences of her life to harden her heart,” Christie said.

“I was often in awe of her ability to overcome the trauma and racism that she experienced and I listened as she would share happy memories of her childhood with her family; my grandmother chose to focus on what was good in her life and did not allow negativity in.”

Coming from a long line of strong, resilient women, Christie also reflects on the roles of her Aunties Joan and Marg, who contributed to important work within their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by repairing and restoring language, and searching for family once lost through the stolen generations, to undo the damages of the past.

“Once again I saw strong, resilient and patient women and I wondered at how these Aunties could be this way despite all the wrong they had experienced in their lives,” Christie reflected.

“I choose to be like them, strong, resilient and patient as I work towards contributing to the healing of our communities. Their legacy does not reflect the wrongs they experienced in this life, but rather the beauty, strength and resilience that they each carried within them, no doubt passed down to them through many generations.”

Christie’s Aunty Marg was pivotal in impacting her research topic and together have worked to understand why there were only certain parts of their language left, and it was her Uncle Kell who had a significant role in encouraging her to attend university.

“I never felt it (university) was right for me, however, he never stopped encouraging me, so one day I finally decided to at least try and that is when I enrolled in the Tertiary Entry Program (TEP) at CQUniversity,” Christie said.

Having graduated from TEP with a grade point average (GPA) of 7 in 2015, Christie soon realised that she had what it took to complete an undergraduate degree – graduating with a Bachelor of Medical Science in 2020, on Gooreng Gooreng and Tarebelang (Bundaberg) Country.

Not wasting any time, Christie enrolled into her Master of Research through the Jilbay Research Higher Degree Academy in November 2021, with a view to finish later this year. She attributes her thanks to Uncle Kell in getting this far, and pays respect to all her Elders – for their contributions to knowledge sharing, healing and instilling strength and resilience to forge forward.

“I have to thank my Uncle Kell for never giving up on me and for encouraging me. If not for him, I may not have come this far with my studies.

“Our Elders are our knowledge holders and have been vital in our ongoing survival. I am glad to see this year's NAIDOC theme honours our old people and I pay my respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders across this country,” Christie said.

“They are invaluable contributors to our communities, they work hard to preserve and protect our cultural knowledge and to share this with our future generations, we are blessed to have them.”

NAIDOC Week is regarded around the nation as one of the most pivotal key dates on the annual calendar, as we move further towards reconciliation, closing the gap and celebrating the rich history of this country and the tapestry of those who’ve forged the path.