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Isla Emery Whittington

Rereahu, Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa

Isla is a cis Māori woman from Rereahu, Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa tribes. Isla is an occupational therapist, Kaupapa Māori researcher and educator. She works clinically in addiction and mental health sector, lectures in decolonising mahi, co-facilitates Tiriti and antiracism workshops and is part of a research team at University of Auckland investigating primary prevention strategies for mental wellness amongst rangatahi.

Promoting flourishing Indigenous communities by addressing internalised oppression.

Internalised oppression refers to the belief in, and alignment with, societal level
supremacist ideologies about marginalised folk. In colonially ‘settled’ spaces,
internalised oppression is inevitable and impacts the ability to live flourishing and
culturally fulfilling lives. It is an intended, but minimally spoken of, aim of the
ongoing colonisation project. Internalised oppression supports the reproduction
of systems and structures that promote whiteness which elicit and reward
expressions of internalised oppression including lateral violence.
Lack of awareness and engagement with internalised oppression contributes to
disconnection to culture, lands, communities, and language resulting in poor
health and wellbeing. Greater awareness of its destructive impacts and colonial
function challenge the idea that internalised oppression is merely a personal
issue located within ‘disconnected’ individuals, as opposed to a carefully honed
supremacist practice.
Our session will explore structures and processes that contribute to internalised
oppression, while highlighting strategies and actions to engage and manage it.

Isla Emery Whittington
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