Brigitte Goepfert’s most vivid childhood memory is of watching her adoptive parent, Nicole, craft a NAIDOC Week kit for primary school students in the late 1970s.

Aged seven at the time, Brigitte did not know then that she was Aboriginal, but the sight of Nicole and a friend debating the imagery of light and dark-skinned hands stuck.

‘’We had a lot of artefacts in the home, and she did a lot of work with Aboriginal communities. Looking back, I think that was her way of exposing me to my culture and instilling in me an understanding of that,’’ says Brigitte, Aboriginal Cultural Consultant for RESTORE Intensive Family Services and Centacare Foster Care.

It was not until she turned 19 that Brigitte learned of her Aboriginal identity and, on reflection, the significance of small moments growing up that had unknowingly connected her to Country.

On National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, Brigitte is encouraging the wider community to celebrate culture and be aware of the role this can play in nurturing young people’s sense of belonging.

Today, with daughter Jadzia, Brigitte will join Centacare Foster Care at a community celebration, hosted by Aboriginal Family Support Services, at the Gardens Recreation Centre in Parafield Gardens.

‘’I always knew I was born on October 12 but I didn’t know that Brigitte wasn’t my birth name, nor that I was a First Nations person, until I was old enough to apply for my adoption papers,’’ she said.

“Marking these days is an opportunity to celebrate culture. That’s why it’s important to me that I bring Jadzia along to these events, so she can see and feel and participate in that feeling of acknowledgment.

‘’For little kids to be around other First Nations kids and feel special, and be celebrated, it demonstrates to them that we are supportive of them and their culture.’’

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day began in 1988.

The date, August 4, was chosen because it was historically used to communally celebrate the birthdays of children from the Stolen Generations who did not know their birth date.

‘’They had no family, no connections to community, so at least that day was something, ‘’ Brigitte said.

“Not knowing their birthday though adds to the trauma of the Stolen Generations and shines a light on the lack of individuality.

‘’That’s why today is so important because it is an opportunity to celebrate.’’

To mark the day, First Nations children engaged with Centacare Foster Care have been gifted bags packed by SNAICC which include a small bag of yarn, a storybook, and a flag.

‘’We always talk about the voice of the child, that their safety is our primary concern, so this is about making sure we hear the children’s voices and that we provide experiences to support cultural connections. We want our children to be strong and be proud of who they are,’’ Brigitte said.