In this recorded conversation, Tasnim and Florence shared the inspiration behind the idea of developing a children’s picture book together that unsettles usual multiculturalist children’s literature. They were joined by special guest Hunhak Matt Gale to discuss their shared experiences as diaspora activists, in so called “Australia”, valuing the role of education in resisting colonialism and building solidarity with First Nations people in their decolonial struggle.
Tasnim and Florence’s children’s’ book follows two young friends, a Samoan girl and a Palestinian boy, Atonia and Tariq, at their local diverse, low-SES public school as they study and engage with a Grade One unit on land and place. Florence and Tasnim bring forth the hope that in representing an ‘Australia’, not through white relations but through encounter in POC children’s friendship and with First Nations knowledge at school, they can prompt the imagining of alternative ways of conceiving belonging for diaspora children.
Folole Tupuola is a First generation Samoan migrant raised on Wiradjuri country. She creates works with community through grass-roots activism, cultural practices, storytelling and contemporary art making. Folole continues to unlearn, to relearn, on Wathaurung country as a Pacific Diaspora voice.
Tasnim Mahmoud Sammak is a single mum of two young boys and a PhD Candidate in Education at Monash University engaged in counter-storytelling as decolonial methodology. She writes and organises on issues of anti-racism, Islamophobia and Indigenous solidarity from her positionality as a Palestinian Muslim living in Naarm.
Hunhak Matt Gale was born on the Melanesian archipelago of the Solomon Islands and moved to Australia to pursue a passion in education and teaching. He has worked in Public Education as a Tutor, Teacher and Teaching Principal in Remote Aboriginal Communities over the last 15 years. For the past 20 years, he’s been a community supporter and former President of the Solomon Islands Victoria Association. Building relationships with other Pacific diaspora communities in Victoria through community based initiatives and personal relationships. He is passionate about social justice in Education for all, Indigenous human rights, and collaborations on climate justice, and cross cultural learning in the Pacific and other regions globally. He writes poetry and performs Spoken Word as acts of resilience. Currently Hunhak is focusing on teaching in out-stations based in the West Daley region in the Northern Territory.