NAIDOC Week — Voice, treaty, truth

We were advised to read this excellent book, Dark Emu, by Bruce Pascoe.

Went to a NAIDOC event at the University of Sydney, with the theme: ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth.’

Keynote speaker Teela Reid, a proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman born and raised by a single mum in Gilgandra western NSW, told us of her journey from a PE teacher to lawyer and United Nations representative. Now she practices criminal, civil and administrative law and was involved as a Working Group leader on the Constitutional dialogue process that resulted in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Statement calls for the voices of First Nations people to be enshrined in the Australian Constitution, and have a say in laws and policies.

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Stolen Generation plaque at Central Station

I helped write and edit this Stolen Generation plaque, prominently displayed at Central Station. Was a privilege to be asked to be involved and was grateful for the opportunity. (In particular, the second par: “Some of these children never made it home, living their lives disconnected from their families and not knowing their true heritage.”)
Was at the official unveiling six months ago, when many of the Stolen Generation were present, truth-telling stories of being dragged away from their siblings on Platform 1, crying and screaming.

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Tragic tale of first Aboriginal monks

I browsed the Yabun Festival stalls and found a fantastic book for $10, The Grand Experiment by Anouk Ride. It’s a true story of an Aussie journalist who saw an etching of two Aboriginal boys in monk outfits years ago in the New Norcia monastery, Western Australia. So she digs into the history and wrote this book.

The Aboriginal monks. Engraving: Pablo Alaborn, circa 1851, Benedictine Community of New Norcia Archive.

They were sent to Europe (by sailing ship) to learn Latin and Italian and English in Italian monasteries, and met the Pope. They travelled to England and France and South Africa.

One of them was very bright and learnt quickly but the other was homesick and hated it. The boys used to call letters “talking papers”, boats were “moving houses” and at first they thought boats were large animals.

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