The Buttery’s Reconciliation Action Plan Committee (RAP Committee) submitted Aneika Kapeen for the 2023 Caring for Country and Culture NAIDOC Award. While Aneika didn’t win this award, we want to share some of her amazing story with you this NAIDOC Week.
Aneika Kapeen is a proud Yaegl and Bundjalung woman. She is the CEO and founder of Mudyala Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and run not-for-profit organisation that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth aged 0-25 in the Northern NSW Clarence Valley region. The Corporation supports young people and their families to connect and engage with education in a comfortable and culturally appropriate manner.
Since being founded in 2019, Mudyala Aboriginal Corporation has facilitated over 1 million hours of learning and playtime through local kindergarten, preschool and school partnerships. The team of 13 employees and volunteers includes a facilitator who works with local parents to help them navigate daily challenges like stigma from past schooling experiences, making it difficult for some of today’s young people to continue formal schooling.
One of several current programs includes the Yaegl Elders Aboriginal Corporation program. Mudyala supported the re-establishment of the Yaegl Elders Aboriginal Corporation. Elders join small groups for gatherings across the Clarence Valley to support community connectedness and reduce social isolation. The Elders gatherings include yarn-up sessions, storytelling, dancing and exercise. The group provides information on the importance of heritage. School groups consult with the Yaegl Elders Aboriginal Corporation group for knowledge and to capture storytelling.
A book called Keeping Our Stories by Aneika Kapeen features 25 Elders stories. The project began in 2019 when Uncle Lester had an idea to record Elders stories. The book includes stories from Yaegl Country and was launched at the Port of Yamba Historical Society in July 2022. The NSW Government, Heritage NSW, funds the project.