COP26 Diary: Prayer with the Archbishop, a message for Scott Morrison, and a hug from home
Aboriginal leader and Christian minister Ray Minniecon is in Glasgow, Scotland, for the UN Climate Summit COP26, and he’s keeping a diary …
Diary entry #5: Monday 1 November 2021
It’s a cold and wet Monday morning. I started the day with an invitation to attend a prayer breakfast with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rev Justin Welby hosted by Anglican Aid and the Anglican Communion. It was a small and intimate gathering of people from Africa, Scotland. (See photo.) They are such dedicated, beautiful and supportive followers of the Jesus Way. After breakfast, the Archbishop told me he was having a meeting with our PM at Morrison’s request. Morrison must have wanted some moral and spiritual support? He asked me what he should say on behalf of my people back home. I could have said Treaty, Truth and Voice, but thought that would just close Morrison’s ear. I know that these concepts are too deep for him, and for me, these concepts are too sacred and far beyond the capacity for this PM to comprehend. I know the Archbishop would have passed that on, though. But this PM needs something simpler to grasp, so I suggested that he say to the PM, “listen to the voice of our people and listen to the voice of our land.” I was hoping that those words would not be too difficult politically for the PM to comprehend.
COP26 Diary: Snakes, stones and hypocrisy contrasts with the comfort of community
COP26 Diary: Unexpected grief at the loss of my cousin and Aboriginal Pastor, Brian Lampton
COP26 Diary: 'I hate being treated like a dumb blackfellow!'
COP26 Diary: A David and Goliath battle for First Nations peoples, and meeting Twiggy Forrest
I have a copy of the Anglican Communion’s brilliant document on Climate Resilience and Just Financing. The Anglican Consultative Council’s COP26 policy position. It’s a good read, which includes this key message: “Resilience planning must include comprehensive multi-sector interventions and responses supported by adaptive and flexible funding and designed with the active participation of local and affected communities, particularly Indigenous Peoples, women and youth.”
I MUST make sure all the local Anglican Churches in Australia get a copy of this to read together and implement in their parishes across Australia.
… a young Aboriginal girl from Borroloola ran up to me. She gave me the biggest Borroloola hug!
Monday is also when all the big noters tell the world community what they will commit their countries to in order to reduce global warming. Today they decide on our forests. I lived off the rain forests in my young days, in far north Queensland, before the dopey Queensland governments started selling it all off. How dumb! Of all the countries on the planet who take climate change seriously, Australia is on the bottom rung of the ladder when it comes to caring for country. And our people are at the forefront of the devasting impact of climate change. We outlined a number of our issues through our IPO submission.
I did get in to see the pavilions where each country and corporation are trying to convince us about their climate change mitigation strategies. When I saw the Australian government’s pavilion, I went into a very deep silent painful scream. There were no images of any kind that represented our people. Nothing! It was like I walked into contemporary Australia’s version of Terra Nullius and the White Australia Policy. No Aboriginal presence! Our people are not represented or included in any form, no art or anything that resembles our place in our own country! Just a bunch of Morrison’s people selling his policy and our land. I had to leave the space. I was about to trigger and explode. This is Terra Nullius in action. I had to leave and cool down because, in COP26, according to our government, we do not exist! And yet, we are the ones who suffer the most from climate change inaction in our country!
I walked around to see if there were any other Indigenous pavilions. There is just one. As I was walking around, stewing over the Australian pavilion, a young Aboriginal girl from Borroloola ran up to me. She gave me the biggest Borroloola hug! Which immediately calmed me down. Solace! She was here at COP26 to advocate for the fracking and mining that was taking place on her grandmothers’ country. I so admire the strength and courage of our people who single-mindedly take on the world on behalf of the survival of her people. Apparently, her best friend is my niece, Diane Minniecon. They studied together at a university in Queensland. That’s how she recognised me. And, of course, the black hat! Whew! After that hug, I decided to go home and lick my wounds and pray.
Ancient of Days. I lift my voice in anguish today, like the prophet Habakkuk, I cry out to you with the same words that he used: “God, how long do I have to cry out for help before you listen? How many times do I have to yell, “Help! Murder! Police!” before you come to the rescue? Why do you force me to look at evil, stare trouble in the face day after day? Anarchy and violence break out, quarrels and fights all over the place. Law and order fall to pieces. Justice is a joke. The wicked have the righteous hamstrung and stand justice on its head…….. God, you’re from eternity, aren’t you? Holy God, we aren’t going to die, are we? God, you chose Babylonians for your judgment work? Rock-Solid God, you gave them the job of discipline? But you can’t be serious! You can’t condone evil! So why don’t you do something about this? Why are you silent now? This outrage! Evil men swallow up the righteous and you stand around and watch! You’re treating men and women as so many fish in the ocean, Swimming without direction, swimming but not getting anywhere. Then this evil Babylonian arrives and goes fishing. He pulls in a good catch. He catches his limit and fills his bucket— a good day of fishing! He’s happy! He praises his rod and reel, piles his fishing gear on an altar and worships it! It’s made his day, and he’s going to eat well tonight! Are you going to let this go on and on? Will you let this Babylonian fisherman Fish like a weekend angler, killing people as if they’re nothing but fish?” Ancient of Days, like the Borroloola hug from that young girl you sent to me today to comfort me in my moment of deep grief, please send your Spirit to give all my people a Borroloola hug of comfort and assurance today that you will help us find ways to restore and care for our land and our people. I ask these mercies in the name of Jesus, our ancestor in faith.
Ray Minniecon is a descendant of the Kabi Kabi nation and the Gurang Gurang nation of south-east Queensland. He is also a descendant of the South Sea Islander people, with deep and abiding connections to the people of Ambrym Island. He leads Scarred Tree, an Aboriginal, Torres Strait and Australian South Sea Islander ministry based in St John’s Glebe, Sydney.