Kalka Mitchell grew up not knowing much about his culture. His father, a Russian, took his mother away from her country of Kalkadoon (Mt Isa region), and Kalka’s first 20 years of life was one of abuse and torture at the hands of his drunken father. “I was always taught not to talk about being Aboriginal, not to say that I was Aboriginal,” he recalled. “The abuse I witnessed was hideous and all I knew was violence.”
Kalka’s outlet while growing up had always been exercise. He was a 12-time bodybuilder champion, weightlifter and Fox Sports TV QLD Muay Thai kickboxing champion, which formed a natural progression into becoming a Personal Trainer, where he also won international awards.
Then, five years ago, his brother committed suicide. “I was the one who found my brother,” said Kalka. “His death was the catalyst for me in returning to the Aboriginal community, and at the request of my mother, I returned to my Aboriginal name and immersed myself in the Indigenous culture.”
He visited his country a few years ago, for the first time since he was a child. “It was a big deal for me to go back and walk on the land of our ancestors,” he explained. The Kalkadoon people are known as some of the fiercest warriors in Aboriginal history, and Kalka is aware of their stories thanks to his great-great-grandmother who witnessed and wrote about their fight on Battle Mountain.
After 30 years of Personal Training, he studied Exercise Management for Chronic Diseases and Mental Illness. Kalka knew his future lay in sharing his own experiences and helping Indigenous people overcome chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes. “Diabetes has become one of the leading causes of death in our people, which has only happened since the introduction of flour, sugar and alcohol.”
So began Warriors at War – a healing program designed by Kalka to help people shed excess weight and reverse the effects associated with chronic illness. After seeing his successes, Cherbourg Aboriginal Council awarded Kalka a grant to undertake his program in their district, with a documentary being filmed by NITV. Cherbourg is in the Wide Bay district and has a history of generational trauma when in the early 1900’s, Aboriginals from 109 different areas were taken there after being forcibly removed from their families. Kalka recognises the challenges, but is confident in his chosen path. “I look upon myself as a leader for them, to let them know it will be ok and help them get back to the old ways (of healing).”
Kalka uses traditional Dreamtime healing, which deals with spirit and the premise that everything is breathing and alive. The founder of Dreamtime Healing with Holographic Kinetics, Steve Richards, was instrumental in Kalka’s own healing and he is honoured to have been taught by him. Steven was awarded the 2005 Life Awards Certificate of Commendation – Indigenous Category by Suicide Prevention Australia, and was nominated for the 2005/2006 Human Rights Medal Award and 2007 Australian of the Year.
“I would like to acknowledge my elder, my teacher, my mentor, Steve Richards and his organisation,” said Kalka respectfully. “He has helped me understand Aboriginal Lore and the science behind it.”
Kalka doesn’t want his people to give up as he wants them to remember the old ways of survival. He feels strongly that their spirits can be healed and continue to instil a sense of pride in themselves, as Indigenous Australians. He also feels that non-indigenous Australians can learn from the Earth’s longest surviving Indigenous race and gain the knowledge to align their spirit with the universe. “My personal legacy is to be remembered as a great warrior to my people and for many who follow my footprints.”