Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Welcome and Sorry

It was so moving last night to watch the coverage of the Welcome to Country ceremony at Parliament House. It was particularly moving because the welcome was made by a woman I have known since childhood and involved her grandhildren and her son who are neighbours and with whom I have discussed some of these issues.

Last Canberra Day I posted about the geography of my heart when it comes to this place.

I am not an indigenous Australian. My family came out with the First Fleet, so we were part of what is called the white invasion of this continent from the very beginning. We have enjoyed all of the privileges extended to the Europeans but denied to Aboriginal Australians.

Matilda's warm, genuine, inclusive and dignified welcome yesterday felt like a personal welcome home.

I am yet to see the coverage of the Prime Minister's Apology to the Stolen Generations on behalf of us all but I fully support the apology.


Five Ferns Fibreholic said...

I got to visit the Miss Australia exhibit at the museum while I was there. One of the winners of the pagent was not a native Australian and in her aceptance speach she commented how it felt to be truely accepted by a country she loved.

There are many nations across the globe (including Canada) who have their own Stolen Generations. It's sad that's it is part of our history as it seems to be the same story no matter where the white European settlers went.

Janet McKinney said...

Yesterday I listened to the PM apology at work - and I was disturbed all morning. I lived for 5 years in Indigenous communities, and I personally know people who have been stolen, and seen the enormous pain it brought on their hearts.
I also know many people who were (white people) in missions - and that they really believed what they were doing was for good

I admit that the policy to eliminate the Aboriginal race was NOT good, nor well intentioned - however, many people DID believe they were rescuing people.

My heart was heavy all day - but I am soooo grateful that - at long last - it has happened.

Here's to putting action to words - as important as words are.
Janet McK

Taphophile said...


I was working for a Christian denomination at the time of the Bringing the Home Report and worked closely with projects aimed at reuniting families.

The Church I worked for was one of those that implemented the goverment policies of the day as well as working on their own agendas regarding indigenous people.

As early as 1987 I worked on a report aimed at beginning a process of reconciliation between that Church and the aboriginal people it had been "responsible" for. I sat while white, educated, privileged men (in the main), tore the report to shreds and divided the Church because they refused to accept that a the great wrong that had been done despite the good intentions.

Most missionaries and workers were genuine in their humanitarian aims. There is need for healing on all sides of this issue but the issue itself is simple. A great wrong was done and a heartfelt apology is the very least that should happen.

I look forward to the actions that should follow and hope to all that is right and reasonable in this world that the process is inclusive of the people most affected rather than another top-down approach.