This International Women’s Day, we’re recognising a very important woman in the Mount Zero psyche: Wotjobaluk Elder Aunty Nancy Harrison.
Aunty Nancy’s connection to Mount Zero began in 2009, when she submitted ‘Bush Tukka’ as the potential artwork to feature on our Pink Lake Salt collaboration range. Over a decade later, we (Jane, Neil and Rich Seymour) have loved getting to know Aunty Nancy and her deadly sense of humour.
Aunty Nancy has been a huge supporter of our Pink Lake Salt collaboration, and has been present at every important event related to the partnership. In fact, Nancy recalls her father harvesting salt at Pink Lake too when she was a child!
A respected and much-loved Elder of the Wotjobaluk community and a local legend in Dimboola, Aunty Nancy was inducted into the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll in 2015, and described as “a source of wisdom and strength for her community”.
Now a passionate and committed cultural leader with involvement in native title, heritage, education and the mentoring of young women, Aunty Nancy’s career actually began in the insurance and accounting industries, before moving into an administrative role with the Australian Defence Force. She officially retired in her fifties – but she soon grew tired of this!
In 2003, Aunty Nancy moved back onto traditional country at Dimboola, and this is where her extensive involvement in the community began. She became involved with native title negotiations for the region, and was Chair of the Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation – who we work closely with during the annual Pink Lake Salt harvest – when they gained their Native Title Determination in 2005. Nancy’s natural skill at connecting communities and understanding the intricacies of clan relationships proved invaluable during this work and future involvement.
This talent also lends itself well to her educational work in primary and secondary schools, where she promotes a greater awareness of Indigenous culture in the Wimmera to students. Aunty Nancy is also an active member of local Aboriginal education consultative group Delkaia Best Star Co-ordination Group and the Grampians Indigenous Family Violence Group, and has worked with Monash University to assist in the preservation and revival of the Wotjobaluk Wergaia language.
In addition to her prolific community involvement, Aunty Nancy is a talented and renowned artist. In addition to creating the artwork for our Pink Lake Salt range – now proudly on display on the tables of many of Australia’s best cafés – she has also provided artwork for locally published book Yangka Track – Wanjab, Gadjin and Murnong, on Aboriginal use of native plants in the Wimmera, and worked with other Elders on the Possum Skin Cloak Project, produced for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
It’s a continued pleasure to know and collaborate with Aunty Nancy Harrison, and we appreciate her ongoing leadership and knowledge sharing during our annual Pink Lake Salt harvest and beyond. Happy International Women’s Day!