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First female Indigenous funeral service director launches Towards the Dreaming

Kariyarra Noongar woman Sharon Todd has become the Aboriginal female in WA to direct a funeral company.

Her new venture Towards the Dreaming began last month and is based at Wirra Hub in Burswood, which supports Aboriginal small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Ms Todd was inspired to launch the business after an overwhelmingly positive response to a funeral she hosted for her brother-in-law and later her father on country.

“Family kept telling me that it was wonderful and asked me to keep doing it,” she said.

“So I started my small business courses and became registered.”

Ms Todd said funerals for Aboriginal people could be “totally different” to non-Indigenous services.

“There’s a lot of people and there’s a lot of emotion. A lot of tradition and culture is involved. Some people may sing and we may do smoking ceremonies,” she said.

“Non-Indigenous funeral directors still come with compassion and sincerity at the time of the family’s needs, but not with that born-in cultural knowledge and knowledge of our history.”

Ms Todd said a recent service involved the merging of two different cultures to honour a person who had both an Aboriginal and Italian background.

“A Catholic father came and spoke in Italian. He really engaged and (the deceased’s) Italian family really appreciated that. It was heartfelt for them,” she said.

“And we opened the service with a Welcome to Country by a traditional Elder and that engaged the Aboriginal family.

“It’s about knowing and being engaged in all different cultures.”

Ms Toddencouraged other Aboriginal people to get involved in the many aspects of the industry.

She also aims to educate Indigenous communities about end of life issues.

“I’ve been going out and talking to groups about what happens when they die, where they go, what the coroner means and the importance of having a will,” Ms Todd said.

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