POV: Torres Strait Islanders grapple with loss of home |

The Torres Strait Islands, an autonomous part of Australia, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis, and extreme weather events, including storms, sea level rise and erosion, pose a serious threat to the indigenous peoples who have inhabited the islands for a long time. about 70,000 years old.

As the case continues, Mr. Molby and his fellow activists have been recognized as human rights leaders for their efforts to raise awareness of the plight of their community.

“I come from Masig Island, in the central part of the Torres Strait, which is located between Papua New Guinea and the tip of Queensland.

There is something powerful about this teardrop island. There is an aura that draws people to this place, protecting us for thousands of years.

Through this earth I am connected with the birds, the sky and the plants that surround us. I am part of insects, mammals and marine life, and they are part of me.

We have been taught to live as one with nature, to protect and preserve it just as it protects and preserves us, our culture and our traditions.

Jesse Mosby, one of the so-called Torres Strait Eight climate activists, photo © Mary Harm

The right to be protected from climate change

“We have the right to practice and continue our traditions and culture, as well as the right to pass on what was passed down to us by our parents, our grandparents and our ancestors.

We have the right to pass on this ancient knowledge to the next generation.

We’ve been through everything: the first cases of chickenpox, the first common flu that practically wiped us out, and World War II. But we survived.

Australia has a duty to care for all Australians and we have the right to remain on our island.

Refugees in our country

The Torres Strait Eight came from different islands, but we all have the same desire to protect what is ours for the sake of our future.

Otherwise, we will have no land to call home. We will be refugees in our own country. My children will have to be relocated because the government will definitely evict us from our homes.

So we said no. We are not moving. What’s here is ours.

Jessie Mosby, one of the Torres Strait climate activists, speaks at the Sydney Biennale.

© Carl Buro

Jessie Mosby, one of the Torres Strait climate activists, speaks at the Sydney Biennale.

Beloved washed away

Here, on Masiga, 30-50 meters from the sea, there was a beach. There were villages all along the southeast coast.

Children’s laughter is heard as their mothers weave mats. Men went out to the reef in search of food. It was a laid-back but happy and secure life.

Then we began to lose land in the sea, and the remains of our loved ones were washed away.

It affects us mentally, physically and spiritually.

Exodus of marine life

We used to have a lot of birds on this island.

For example, black and white pelican, black and white booby and others.

They don’t nest here anymore, and that’s a sign that something, you know, is definitely not right.

We used to have lagoons rich in seafood. At low tide, women could easily fish in their lagoons while their children learned to swim with their older siblings and grandmothers looked after the youngest children.

Now. There is a desert. The lagoons are gone, filled with sand and empty of life.

Masig Island in the Torres Strait

© 350 Australia

Masig Island in the Torres Strait

Dangers in the Deep

Making a living is getting harder. The main income on Masiga is crayfish. Now all men should go further and spend more on fuel.

It is always dangerous to go further, and the families of husbands and sons are afraid for them.

There are many dangerous things in the ocean, but the worst thing is if the weather changes. You wonder if you’ll come home.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You can listen to the full audio interview here.

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