A large crowd assembled at Monash Park to observe – in what was at times inclement weather – the 2019 Sorry Day commemoration by the Shepparton Region Reconciliation Group. Aunty Faye Lynham – one of the stolen generations – was the guest of honour. National Sorry Day marks the day the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Federal Parliament.
The commemoration began with a Smoking Ceremony performed by Uncle Jack and Wilfred Stewart on the didgeridoo. Uncle Lance James gave the Welcome to Country and Vice-Chair of the Reconciliation Group Dierdre Robertson gave the Acknowledgement of Welcome. Students from Goulburn Valley Grammar School gave one Introduction to the Guest Speaker, Aunty Faye Lynam.
Aunty Faye Lynam was just eight when she was taken from her family. Ms Lynam was living on a river bank with her brother and father, who used to pick beans for a living, when she was removed from her family.
‘One day a policeman came down and he took my father aside and spoke to him — they said If you don’t let your daughter go I’m going to come down, lock you up, burn your tent and send you out of town’, she said. ‘Police gave me to a single man. He had a girlfriend, but she hated me because I was black. I believed my Dad never stopped looking for me, he searched and searched in every town.’
Ms Lynam never gave up hope on being reunited with her family, continuing to look out for anyone who might have known her father, whenever she went somewhere.
While she suffered for years through abuse and neglect, she said the thought of being reunited with her family helped her maintain her strength.
‘I used to look out the window whenever we went to somewhere to see if I could see any Aboriginals or anyone who might have known my Dad,’ she said. ‘I don’t know what I was going to do, but I was thinking about jumping out of the car and going to see them, even if I was hurt or anything like that — it didn’t matter as long as I could maybe see my father again.’
Students from Goulburn Valley Grammar gave a vote of thanks to Aunty Faye. The Murrung Dancers from Mooroopna Secondary College performed a traditional dance for guests and gave all the ceremonial animal skins to Aunty Faye.
The History of Sorry Day was given by students from Wanganui Park Secondary College. Students from Shepparton High School led the Expression of Sorrow with the refrain, “I am sorry”. Students of Shepparton Christian College explained the Invitation to Laying of the wreaths of remembrance of the Stolen Generations – the wreaths were laid by students from the Academy of Sport, Health and Education. The assembled crowd was then led to the Invitation to Minute’s Silence by Shepparton Christian College. During the silence, Wilfred Steward played the Didgeridoo. The Invitation to Raising of the Flags was given by Shepparton Christian College and the flag raising was done by students of the Berry Street School.
The Bringing Them Home Report was introduced by students of Notre Dame College. A Bringing Them Home Reflection was led by students from Sirius College. There was a Bridge Walk Reflection given by students from McGuire College and the purpose and theme of National Reconciliation Week was given by students of Mooroopna Secondary College.
At the conclusion of proceedings, all present were invited to sign the Sorry Commemoration Book.
Thereafter, there was a Commemorative Walk along Fryers St to the Murals at the GM Water building with brief comments from Uncle Bobby Nicholls.
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