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Today 50% of the Kanaks have migrated to cities to seek a better future. But for the women who remain in the tribes, they must fight many conservative beliefs to emancipate themselves. In the northern province, only 38.4% of women work and this is often part time. Isabelle Tyuienon proposed creating local markets so mothers with small children can sell the products they grow and have some financial independence. Each week they meet in the market to exchange ideas, share their stories and imagine projects like restaurants, communal gardens or group loans that they finance through the bank of united economy for women. Today the Kanak tribal women are waking up.

“I want women to blossom, even though they remain in their tribes”

It is by transmitting skills that the Kanak spoken word continues to develop. It weaves ties, speaks about the world and gives it meaning. It can be soft, light, joyous or profound. It aids grandmothers as they educate their granddaughters.

At a time where the Kanak society is modernizing, the young people educated in French public schools have trouble identifying with their customs. Some have not received a traditional Kanak education and are losing their reference points. The rate of delinquency or drug and alcohol consumption among young people has gone up in recent years. So this time of sharing skills is seen as a way to assert one’s identity.

Today, tribal women once again play a key role in traditional villages. The customs Senate that oversees the organization of Kanak society is slowly recognizing their legitimacy and helps them evolve socially and economically while conserving ancestral values.

“The spoken word is a form of education for tomorrow’s women.”

“Continue transmission, create pride in being a Kanak woman.”

- Titouan Lamazou, Zoé Zoé : Femmes du monde (Zoé Zoé: Women of the World), Gallimard Loisirs, 2007

 

- Sébastien Lebègue Coutume Kanak (Kanak Customs), a co-édition : Au vent des îles / ADCK – Tjibaou Cultural Center, 2018

 

- Emmanuel Kasarherou and Roger Boulay, Kanak : L'art est une parole (Kanak: Art is a spoken word), Musée du Quai Branly, Actes Sud, 2013

 

- “Le combat des femmes kanak" (The Combat of Kanak Women), a film by Anne Lainé, 2004

 

- “Kanaky, paroles de femmes” (Kanaky, Words of Women), a film by Bernard Mounier.

 

- “La natte et la monnaie kanak” (Welcome Mats and Kanak Money), report by Cédric Tyea - Wéari - Calédonia 2017  https://www.caledonia.nc/emission/weari

AN EDUCATION FOR TOMORROW

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Une quête de la vérité sur la route des larmes

 

C'est à l’hôtel Bonaventure de Montréal qu'ont eu lieu les premières auditions de la commission d’enquête. Fanny Wylde retrouve Cheryl, de la communauté Mohawk, sidérée par le désintérêt de la police pour la recherche de sa sœur après le signalement de sa disparition. Carleen, mère de trois enfants, sera retrouvée par hasard par un chasseur, sept semaines plus tard, à deux kilomètres de chez elle. Morte. Elle s'est suicidée. Cheryl s’interroge encore sur une forme de racisme, l’apathie politique et l’indifférence des médias qui font passer ces crimes pour de simple faits divers. Pour Cheryl et pour toutes les autres familles de victimes, la commission d’enquête offre une lueur d’espoir et de justice.

PRESERVE AND TRANSMIT

During customary exchanges, the objects given to others have both an economic and symbolic value. They even represent the intention and soul of the person who offers them. The women’s role is to weave a network between clans by offering mats woven in pandanus fibers.

But today, under the influence of modern society, these mats have often been replaced by industrial mats that are made in China. So on the advice of the customs Senate, Isabelle launched the “Pandanus” operation in 1995 whose goal is to teach mat weaving and re-plant this tropical plant in large quantities since its dried leaves are used for weaving the mats. Today the welcome mat once again has a role in customary exchanges.

“We need woven mats to maintain our customs and encourage the spoken word”

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A LIFE DEDICATED TO WOMEN'S CAUSES

The Haut Gelima tribe lives 170 kilometers north of Noumea amidst woody hills where coconut trees, niaoulis and tree-like ferns blend together. Isabelle has lived here since her marriage thirty years ago when she came to live with her husband’s clan. When she arrived, she discovered women who were submissive, discriminated against and ignored although they are the ones who assure the children’s education and manage their homes. So when this teacher is not working in her fields, she goes to the parish to listen to women. After hearing their stories, she created the “SOS sexual violence” association in 1993 and has multiplied initiatives to validate tribal Kanak women. In 2014 she became president of the “Femmes pays” (Country women) association that seeks to protect Kanak cultural skills and create social ties.

“We are no longer afraid to speak out, we speak easily, we are welcoming, we are responsible women”

For 3,000 years, the Kanaks have inhabited an island in the Pacific Ocean that is twice the size of Corsica. But a violent encounter took place when the Europeans arrived in 1853. The colonists pushed the indigenous people into the mountains and put them in reservations. After this, the Kanaks undertook a long combat to salvage their identity that is anchored in their roots, their clan, their tribe, their land and their customs.

 

In the 1970’s Jean-Marie Tjibaou, a leading, combative figure who represented this native people, made the Kanaks proud when he organize the Melanesia 2000 festival so others could discover their rich cultural heritage. In 1988 the Matignon agreements confirmed this identity renewal by creating an agency to develop the Kanak culture (ADCK) and also built the Tjibaou cultural center.

Women find their place in these actions for refocusing on Kanak culture since they are integral to transmitting skills, especially weaving mats, a symbolic item customarily exchanged during ceremonies.

They also see it as a way to emancipate themselves and they are thus the motor for this new economy and the evolution of their tribal roles.

“I refuse to sit idly by, today it is more a ‘hands on the hips’ stance and looking towards the future”

NEW CALEDONIA

IS A FRENCH OVERSEAS

COLLECTIVITY

OF THE POPULATION

IS

KANAK

OF KANAKS

LIVE BELOW

THE POVERTY LINE

OF THE KANAKS

LIVE

IN TRIBES

MORE EXPENSIVE THAN

IN THE CITIES

THE MARGINALIZATION LEVEL

OF KANAK YOUTH

TRIBAL LIFE IS

IT WAS COLONIZED

BY FRANCE

IN 1853

THE PORTRAIT

THE PORTRAIT 

UNITED WOMEN

UNITED WOMEN

PRESERVE AND TRANSMIT

PRESERVE AND TRANSMIT

AN EDUCATION FOR TOMORROW

AN EDUCATION FOR TOMORROW

THE VOICE OF EMANCIPATION FOR KANAK WOMEN IN THEIR TRIBES

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ISABELLE

TYUIENON

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ISABELLE        TYUIENON

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AN EDUCATION FOR TOMORROW

CREDITS

PRESERVE AND TRANSMIT

UNITED WOMEN

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THE PORTRAIT

THE SUBJECT

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