It was the colours on the wall – red, black and yellow.
A new creation.
Another piece of history for us all to share.
First it was the eyes emerging, gazing out from the wall.
Eyes that had seen separation from family, exclusion, difference.
As more details emerged, the face took on its own identity.
Aunty Marge, Margaret Elizabeth Tucker, activist, campaigner for full citizen rights and equal opportunity – rightfully taking her place beside her fellow campaigners – Uncle William Cooper and Uncle Doug Nicholls.
Victorian Representative along with William Cooper and Doug Nicholls for the Day of Mourning
Then we felt the expectation building as another face slowly came into being.
Again it was the eyes – kind, wise. These eyes had witnessed the birth of many – births with care and understanding.
Births that took place not beside their white counterparts, but separate, outside on verandahs, in huts.
Aunty Nora , Nora Minnie Charles, sometimes known as Nanny Nora or Nan, midwife to many and a strong, wise presence in the community.
These were the connections to the two towering images on the other end of the lane.
Aunty Marge had travelled to Sydney with Uncle William and Uncle Doug to attend the first Day of Mourning and pass a resolution asking for “Full citizenship status and equality within the community”.
Aunty Nora was the sister of Uncle Doug Nicholls – sharing a strong family tradition of supporting and advocating for their people.
And whilst these faces were emerging, there were conversations. What’s happening here? Who are these women?
Conversations that add to knowledge, to understanding. Conversations that talk about exclusion, dispossession and that first Day of Mourning 80 years ago.
Conversations that provide an opportunity to reflect on where we are now and what progress we have made.
To ponder on the Australia in which we want to live – one that is inclusive and respectful, and one in which we can feel pride in a shared history.
But most importantly, there were conversations of pride in achievements, of strength of culture and the strong history of leadership. There was the generosity of sharing these stories: helping us understand another part of the history of our area.
We encourage you to visit the laneway beside Goulburn Valley Water, read the signage and find out more about these extraordinary people. Keep in mind that their activism was at a time when Aboriginal people were not even considered citizens in their own country and most did not have the right to vote. Travel was often difficult, requiring permits and schooling was limited to primary level.
In this context, the achievements of these four extraordinary ordinary people are truly extraordinary.
And consider what you can do to continue the work of these four people.
We invite you to join us on our Walk for Reconciliation on Saturday March 17. We will gather in the Queens Gardens (opposite Eastbank) at 3.00pm and leave to walk to the Converge Festival at 3.40pm to arrive in time for the Welcome to Country to open the Festival.
To find out more about the work of the Shepparton Region Reconciliation Group, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Dierdre on 5821 6600
(L) Aunty Marge, Margaret Elizabeth Tucker with Aunty Nora, Nora Minnie Charles
This page first appeared in Shepparton News and is reproduced with permission from Shepparton Region Reconciliation Group.
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