The significance of Dreamtime week has never been more pronounced for Richmond midfielder Shane Edwards.
Edwards will be the sole Richmond indigenous player (youngster Nathan Drummond is injured) in this Saturday’s blockbuster against Essendon.
The year marks the 11thedition of the Dreamtime game, which has become one of the most important home-and-away matches of the AFL calendar, for its celebration of Indigenous culture.
For the fifth straight year, Richmond will wear a modified Dreamtime guernsey, designed by an Indigenous artist.
“This year’s Dreamtime jumper is extra special to me. It (the design) is from Southern Arunta, which is south of Alice Springs,” Edwards said.
“We went out there two years ago to Alice Springs, and went to Santa Teresa, and I found out a fair bit of my heritage is out that way.”
From a number of entries by Indigenous artists, Edwards was tasked with choosing his favourite design.
Unbeknown to him at the time, the winning design belonged to 14-year-old artist Derek Summerfield, a distant cousin of Edwards’, who comes from the Northern Territory community of Titjikala.
In the months since his discovery, Edwards has continued to learn about his family lineage, discovering that some family members narrowly avoided being taken as part of the stolen generation.
“This year’s jumper represents families who have been taken away or lost over the years, and finding their way back, and never being forgotten on their long journey back to finding their family,” Edwards said.
“It has extra special meaning to me because my family has gone through things like that – avoiding the stolen generation, and taking extreme measures to stay alive and survive the repercussions of what happened.
“The circle represents communities, or families, and the little dots are the connections between families and communities.”
Richmond supports the work of Connecting Homes & the National Stolen Generations Alliance in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and educating the broader community.