My name is Tekanaiti Teririaki and my grandmother’s name is Tepurirai Kirenang. During my childhood and teenage years, my grandmother always shared stories about her beloved Banaba (Ocean Island).

In my childhood days and early teenage years, my grandmother always shared her story about her beloved island and her ancestor’s homeland, Banaba. She shared the challenges they faced because of the mining and relocation and how they experienced hardship and emotional trauma from what they had gone through with the British, Australian, and New Zealand mining on Ocean Island. She wanted me to ensure that we STOP mining and exploration on any parts of our homelands. It belongs to our beloved ancestors; we don’t need to make money from our precious land. Land that is very valuable to us.

My grandmother told me that we would suffer the same fate in the future if we allow any company to re-mine our island. Most of the benefits would only go to Kiribati and the mining company, not our people. Whenever she shared those stories and memories, she would shed tears. I took it lightly before but now I can feel what she felt and what she and many families from Banaba experienced, all of the hurt and pain. Since then I have been sharing the same stories to my children about what my grandmother said about keeping, protecting, and defending our land. They don’t have to touch and do anything with the land. She said even if there is a lot and phosphate, it doesn’t matter. Even if that is the richest place we don’t have to touch or make money off it by further destroying our ancestral lands. We need to earn our own living and develop ourselves to find alternative income. She also mentioned, whether we are not educated or working, if we make use of our talents and skills, we can develop that to make money instead of touching our ancestor’s property. We need to make the most of what we can do.

I continue to teach my children to respect our ancestors and elders on their views on protecting ocean island and to never forget their stories and what they have gone through. This will ensure our future generations will not make the same mistakes. I respect my ancestors, my elders, my grandmother’s wishes and views on defending and protecting our valuable piece of land and our home.

We will lose our identity if we lose our beloved Ocean Island. If we do not respect our land if we disrespect our elders, that shows where our identity comes from.

My grandmother said, if they keep re-mining Banaba, if we allow it to happen again in the future, what will happen to our families living on there and taking care of Banaba after the relocation. Where will our families go to and live. She said never again, we cannot allow this to ever happen again. We can make our own living through our talents and skills and not make money of our lands.

That’s why I say no to exploration, I say no to exploitation, and I say no to mining.


The post Never Again: My grandmother’s call to end mining on Banaba Island appeared first on 350.