I wanted to look at another part of the world. Australia, reveals some of the beauty of this distant land. A friend of mine took her family there nearly a decade ago. Her daughter was in my class and we kept up a weekly Rarotonga Dispatch, and posted on a website. They visited Rarotonga before Australia, and went to the Cook Islands, on a sabattical. We tracked their travels on the map. My children honeymooned off of the Cook Islands, north east of Australia, coincidentally enough. The photos show a deep, rich culture of food, dancing, people, and unique flora and fauna.The new film,
What a horrible event: the bush fires. This fire, while it has been said to have been started by a pyromaniac in one town, it does reflect the results of Global Warming, since the land was so dry, and the temperatures so very hot. The winds were wild as the wept the fires up to a frenzy. Most of the population lives in the south eastern provinces.
We have by-laws and safety laws to protect us, the creatures, and our environment. In summer, here in Muskoka, signs are posted about the risk for fires. By-laws restrict open fires in these situations. What with some of the risks people take, I worry that this could happen here.
The coverage has been spectacular of the bushfires; the stories from victims terrifying. Most of the devastation is in the provinces in the south easterly portion, Victoria (orange) and New South Wales (brown). The responses have been heartwarming. Some are caring for animals. Fire restrictions are still in force. Relief centres have been set up. Schools were closed, many have reopened.
The Commonwealth of Australia has many things in common with Canada: a large aboriginal population that has suffered racism and exploitation by colonialization. A disparate meterological condition, differening geographical, and topological configurations across a country with peoples who practiced hunting and gathering, and oral traditions invaded and by those who came from industrialized societies and looked down on differing traditions, including responsible government, while being part of the commonwealth.
With 21.3 million people, 60% living in the southeast, we have over 30 million people primarily living in the cities, near the harbours and waterways; gold rushes, transportation routes that drew those seeking to escape colonial society, farm land and a new start. Invading peoples brought infections and diseases, and an attitude of superiority that resulted in boarding schools and cultural genocide.
I took students to an International Aboriginal Festival in Ottawa. There were many presentations , one of which was a Maori dancing/singing group. New Zealand being not too far away from Australia, has similar human, natural and cultural images. I worked in a school in which two teachers had done a job exchange: they switched between a city of Ottawa school and a New Zealand school. We had a grand time learning about different cultural practices of New Zealand. We learned some dances and put on a big assembly.
The video (below) shows some devastating shots. I cannot imagine living through such trauma. We were without power for 10 days in Ice Storm '98, and that has had a lasting effect on me. Any freezing rain, or high winds, give me some grief. I hope that the survivors and victims will work their way through the trauma of this Black Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009, as it is called.