Home General News National Sorry Day: Three Stories of Surviving While We Pause to Remember the Stolen Generations

National Sorry Day: Three Stories of Surviving While We Pause to Remember the Stolen Generations

by ervte

Today is National Sorry Day in Australia. National Sorry Day is commemorated annually and is a time for all Australians to pause and remember the stolen generations – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have suffered due to government policies and practices of forced removal and assimilation of children.

It is a day when Australians recognize the trauma and loss that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families, and communities have suffered due to these policies and their ongoing consequences.National Sorry Day

While National Sorry Day is celebrated annually on May 26, it was actually on February 13, 2008, when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, on behalf of the Australian Parliament, offered a formal national apology to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for the government policies that led to the Stolen Generations.

Several years ago, Eternity published a National Sorry Day prayer prepared in 1997 by the Wontulp-Bi-Buya Indigenous Theology Working Group. Wontulp-Bi-Buya is the Queensland partner of Nungalinya College, Darwin, providing Indigenous leadership training for the church and community.

Two years ago, Eternity asked Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christians who had grown up since the Stolen Generations to think about where they were, what they were doing, and what the National Apology meant. You can read their varied and moving reports here.

This year, we’d like to draw our readers’ attention to three stories of Stolen Generation survivors buried in the archives of Eternity that they may not have read.

The first is a bite-sized, good news story written by Naomi Reed in her “Faith Stories” series with Eternity. Mama said she let us go. But we were part of the stolen generation; May tells how she was taken from her mother to Bombaderry.

The second is hard to read and a must-read. It is the story with which Aboriginal activist and actor Uncle Jack Charles made history in April this year. Uncle Jack was the first to share his story at the Yoo-took Justice Commission’s public hearings. He told the Commission that he had been taken from his Bunurong mother at four months in Daish’s Paddock, an Aboriginal camp near Shepparton. Read it here: ‘You put a church on this death camp, it becomes a mission,’ Aboriginal elder tells justice committee.

The third story is nothing short of inspiring. It is the story of Uncle Shane Phillips, CEO of Tribal Warrior, a grassroots organization that has helped reduce the crime rate in the Sydney suburb of Redfern. Shane’s family are survivors of the stolen generation – his mother’s grandfather went to war; soon after, the children were removed from the family, not reuniting until adulthood.

Shane works daily with young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Redfern, seeing firsthand how that government practice has a lasting effect on the current generation. But, Shane argues, local indigenous communities are critical to ‘solving’ their problems — and he’s got the points on the board to prove it. Strengthen a community, and anything is possible, says an Aboriginal Christian leader. Don’t miss it.

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