TEARS OF JOY AS PROJECT SHINES LIGHT ON REGION’S ABORIGINAL HISTORY
THERE were tears of joy among the guests as the sun set and the coloured downlights were switched on for the first time on Tuesday (17 March) to showcase the 80m-long pictorial screens that wrap the IWC Health & Wellbeing Complex in Bundaberg.
Aboriginal Elders and Traditional Owners from across Bundaberg region came together at a ceremony to mark the significant step towards true Reconciliation for the community.
The screens show the pictorial Aboriginal history of the region, with each of the 11 panels depicting oral histories about Sacred Sites, ancient traditions and, importantly, the bloody massacres that decimated Aboriginal peoples in the 19th century.
Each of the downlight colours has been chosen by First Nation Elders – aqua for the ocean, ochre for the rich soil, and red for oral histories of the massacres, which cover two of the 11 screens.
IWC General Manager Wayne Mulvany said: “The entire process of the creation of the pictorial screens has been one of much emotion, bringing to the fore long-suppressed pain and suffering carried by Traditional Owners and Elders in this region.”
Plaques detailing each of the oral histories and the original artworks which have formed the basis of the screens are also on permanent display inside Building 2 of the IWC Complex.
“These screens provide community custodianship of the oral histories, which are a legacy to be shared with all peoples and, through this, help to build true Reconciliation,” said Mr Mulvany. “We thank the Working Group of Elders for providing their wisdom and knowledge.”
The ceremony opened with didgeridoo from Byron Broome, followed by a Welcome to Country in Taribelang Bunda language from Elder Uncle Raymond “Willie” Broome, which was then translated into English by Aunty Di Brown.
Uncle Willie said: “For eons, the Taribelang people nurtured our land. We developed knowledge, technology, skills and practices which led our Ancestors to prosper. The sharing of our ancient knowledge today, as passed down by our Ancestors, is important because there cannot be true Reconciliation without honesty, integrity and truth.”
He said of the screens: “To see this is just overwhelming to me and our people. You know finally, we’ve got a voice! It’s a voice for our people.”
Uncle Wayne Mothe, who was part of the Working Group that created the screens, said: “It feels fabulous – it’s good to get the stories out there that haven’t been told. People haven’t been aware of what has happened in this region and area years and years ago. It means a hell of a lot. It’s a spiritual thing and we are a spiritual people.”
Aunty Eileen Rowe, 89, said: “My husband (a Taribelang man) tried for so long to for something like this to happen, and it’s happened now … I’m very proud.”
Bundaberg Tourism CEO Katherine Reid, who attended the ceremony, said: “It’s so important for a destination and a region’s people as well to really understand that Aboriginal history.”
IWC is Aboriginal community-controlled and a registered charity, providing delivers services for all people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, as it works to deliver Reconciliation in Action every day.
The screens will be lit regularly for the community from hereon.