Moa women creating bright futures in business

[by Jade Sciberras]

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Workshop facilitators and participants at Moa Arts. Image: supplied

Moa Arts in the Kubin community of the Torres Strait has provided the perfect creative space for community members to connect and learn about the steps and support available to launch into business.

In preparation for the New Year and pre-COVID, the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) visited the arts centre with business development organisation, Many Rivers, to deliver a two-day workshop (13 and 14 December) aimed at helping local people start and succeed in business.

Participants Louise Manas and Mabel Kanai are among aspiring business owners with diverse and exciting ideas to support culture and strong economic futures for their families and community.

58-year-old Louise Manas would like to write and publish a children’s book in traditional language.

It is a natural next step for the cultural advisor and coordinator for the Indigenous Knowledge Centre, which is home to the island’s library service.

“I am a speaker of Kala Lagaw Ya, which is spoken by more than 100 people, including my two children,” Ms Manas said.

“Writing and publishing a children’s book in traditional language would help preserve and share our traditional language during the important early years of child development.”

Mabel Kanai, 52, is a self-taught artist who dreams of starting a textile and sewing business to support and inspire future generations, including her three-year-old daughter, Jamie.

“I am at the very start of my journey and am grateful for the opportunity to meet the TSRA and Many Rivers and learn about starting my own business,” Ms Kanai said.

TSRA Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM said the December workshop – held weeks before the first reported COVID-19 case in the Torres Strait – was able to proceed thanks to the community’s strong vaccination uptake.

“Kubin is one of the highest-vaccinated communities across the Torres Strait and Cape York region,” Mr Stephen said.

“Staff were able to safely visit the community before COVID-19 reached the region and start working with aspiring local business owners.

“TSRA is continuing to connect with communities in COVID-safe ways, including virtual options to keep conversations and priorities moving while vaccination rates increase across the region,” he said.

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