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Building relationships from Taiwan to the Torres Strait

From Taiwan to the Torres Strait: Ailan hospitality from local leaders

Tears of joy, acknowledgement and acceptance set the scene for a meaningful exchange between First Nations representatives from Taiwan and the Torres Strait on Thursday Island this month (22-24 May), as part of a Canberra Fellowships Program visit.

The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade hosted the delegation of influential First Nations policy leaders from Indigenous Taiwanese communities on their trip to the nation’s remote far north.

TSRA Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM said the delegation connected with local government, native title and federal government representatives on Thursday (23 May).

“Dialogue focused on First Nations-led policies, practices and positive outcomes in our communities and homelands,” Mr Stephen said.

“The delegation was impressed with TSRA’s work and commitment to caring for land and sea, including coastal and natural marine resource management by our programs and local rangers.”

In a touching sign of unity, both parties shared woven pieces in a symbolic exchange of gifts.

“Our sincere, heart-to-heart discussion centred around the woven mat as a symbol to connect and strengthen our relationship into the future,” Mr Stephen said.

“This genuine, grassroots cultural exchange honoured our cultural strengths and common ground between the Torres Strait and Taiwan.

“We are island communities divided by ocean, but connected in our advocacy for recognition of our status as First Nations people,” he said.

Participants included:

  • Ms Kolas Yotaka, a former Amis Taiwanese politician who previously served as the first Indigenous spokesperson for Taiwan’s Executive Yuan.
  • Ms Sayun Tosu, a Section Chief in Taiwan’s Council of Indigenous Peoples born in Talah Village in Datong Township of Ilan County.
  • Dr Jolan Hsieh, a Taiwanese Indigenous scholar from the Siraya Nation.
  • Dr Futuru Tsai, an Anthropologist and an ‘Etolan (Dulan) Amis community member in Taitung, Taiwan.

Local representatives included Torres Shire Council, TSRA and Gur A Baradharaw Kod Torres Strait Sea and Land Council Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Corporation (GBK).

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  • First Nations leaders: Left to right: Taiwanese delegate Kolas Yotaka with Torres Shire Council Mayor Elsie Seriat
  • Connecting cultures: TSRA Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM, with Taiwanese delegate Kolas Yotaka and Torres Shire Council Cr Gabriel Bani
  • From Taiwan to the Torres Strait: Ailan hospitality from local leaders

Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people are advised this website may contain names, images and recordings of people who have passed.