Art, culture and being timeless
“BEING an elder is not about being a certain age; it’s how you feel about your culture.”
That’s the sage advice from Aunty Christina Saunders, a proud Gunditjmara woman from the Cart Gundidj clan of Cart Mountain.
The renowned elder, artist and Indigenous rights activist has seen many things whilst living in south west Victoria, and sat down with the Portland Observer to reflect on the highs and lows being an Aboriginal woman.
Born in Heywood to Chris and Phyllis Saunders, she was one of 10 siblings.
“Dad had Reg, Harry and Walter from a first marriage and then Amy, Eliza, myself, Ken, Keith, Frances and Theo,” Aunty Christina said.
“I was born in Heywood at the old hospital; it was an old house back then and Laura Bell was living there.
“Mum didn’t have time to take her coat off; it was raining and she just had me there on the table.”
Aunty Christina grew up on the Lake Condah Mission until its closure in 1959.
“It was horrible. It was a compound,” she lamented.
“It was towards the end of the mission when only the Fosters and Saunders were left.”
It was whilst living at the Mission that Aunty Christina learned about Gunditjmara culture from her mother.
“Mum grew up at the mission and taught us about the old stuff and culture.
“She could call out like a mopoke, and she could sneak up on the kookaburras and grab them.
“She entertained us; she was always doing things, because we had no toys.”