On this International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, CQUniversity recognises Associate Professor Henrietta Marrie. Based at the Cairns campus, Assoc Prof Marrie has been at the forefront of Indigenous recognition for many decades and was recently appointed to the National Cultural Heritage Committee to oversee the protection of precious cultural artifacts. She is also one of the key people who helped develop CQUniversity’s Reconciliation Action Plan.
What was a recent highlight of your life?
The birth of my latest grandson, his Yidin name is Dugurraja (Milky Way).
What is your favourite film or book of all time?
I have read many books over the years, but the book which had a most lasting and inspiring impression on me was Wasase: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom by Taiaiake Alfred, a Mohawk warrior and a friend.
Who has made an impact on your life? Why?
My parents and grandparents, because they grew up at a time of systematic institutionalisation of Aboriginal people but still found the strength and resilience to master the English language and the processes to survive and succeed and help me to succeed in anything I choose to do.
What is the best thing about your CQUni campus?
We have a friendly campus located right in the heart of Cairns/Gimuy city with a great spirit of collaboration between staff and students.
If you could solve any social issue in your community, what would you tackle first?
Making sure our youth have a future to look forward to through access to education.
How are you changing the world?
Creating a pathway of success for Indigenous people and eliminating institutional racism, which is a barrier to effective service delivery for Aboriginal people. My husband and I have developed a matrix of identifying, measuring and monitoring institutional racism in the public health system, which is being currently trialled in Queensland.
Describe the greatest moment of your life so far?
When I received a fax on Christmas Eve, 1996 offering me the position in the United Nations Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal, Canada.
What do you love most about your role?
It gives me the opportunity to engage and work with a wide range of people in the private and public sectors in ways that also benefit CQUniversity.
If you weren’t living in Cairns, where would you be?
I don’t think I would want to live anywhere else but on my traditional country.
Who is the most famous person you’ve ever met?
I have met and spoken with a number of famous people over the years, including Sir David Attenborough, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, former First Lady Hilary Clinton and actor Harrison Ford.