Today is National Sorry Day. Here is what five Indigenous teens think about it

Today is National Sorry Day. Here is what five Indigenous teens think about it

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At Spinifex State College in Mount Isa, north-west Queensland, National Sorry Day means different things to five of the school’s Indigenous teenagers.

Part of National Reconciliation Week it reflects, but does not commemorate, the speech on February 13, 2008, by then-prime minister Kevin Rudd.

In it he apologised to the Stolen Generations and recognised their continuing struggles.

Seleena Blackey, 17, said National Sorry Day meant more than just an apology. To her family, it was recognition.

"It is really important to our family, my mum’s and my dad’s [families] were affected by the Stolen Generations," she said.

"We’re Kalkadoon, so come from the Mount Isa region, and my grandfather’s mother was taken from here and put on Palm Island.

"[It’s] the same with my dad’s grandmother, she was taken from here as well and put on Palm Island.

"They just grew up and started their family over there.

Opening a dialogue

Wayne Burke, 16, says having his people acknowledged by government was important to him and his family.(ABC North West Queensland: Kelly Butterworth)

Spinifex senior student Wayne Burke said he felt Sorry Day and the national apology gave him and his family recognition and acknowledgement in Australia.

"It means to me that my people are finally recognised and acknowledged by a government, showing they care," he said.

He said the apology gave a strong platform to inform non-Indigenous Australians about the Stolen Generations and open a dialogue around the history of Indigenous Australians.

More representation needed

Jasmine Connelly, 17, says she wants to see more Indigenous people in State and Federal Parliament.(ABC North West Queensland: Kelly Butterworth)

When Jasmine Connelly looks at the elected officials in both State and Federal Parliaments, she said she did not see enough people who represented her and her family.

The 17-year-old Spinifex Senior College vice captain said she wanted to see more Indigenous people speaking about Indigenous issues.

"For an Indigenous person it is really hard to relate to someone there because a lot of them are not Indigenous. Last year was the first time that our Indigenous Affairs Minister was Indigenous," she said.

"It took us that long to get there.

Sorry Day’s heavy weight

Thomas Mullins, 16, says National Sorry Day means a lot to his family who were impacted strongly by the Stolen Generations.(ABC North West Queensland: Kelly Butterworth)

Thomas Mullins said as a young Indigenous man he saw National Sorry Day as "enough" for him and his family.

"It means a lot, you know," he said.

Education needs to change

Alysha Blackley, 15, says to her Sorry Day is important to stay connected to her culture and family’s history.(ABC North West Queensland: Kelly Butterworth)

Alysha Blackley, 15, is Seleena’s younger sister and followed on from what her older sister said about the lasting impact of the Stolen Generations on their family.

She said, despite the hardship faced in the past and present by Indigenous families, National Sorry Day was one day of recognition.

"With our culture being taken from us we were able to reclaim it, and our identity as well, through the apology and the acts that people took to get us to where we are today," she said.

When it came to education about Sorry Day for non-Indigenous youth, Alysha said she would like to see fewer facts and more personal stories from the Stolen Generations told.

"I think it’s more important to see how it actually affected someone personally, what their experiences were, how their life changed, and how their family isn’t the same or hasn’t remained the same."

Walking Together is taking a look at our nation’s reconciliation journey and where we’ve been and asks the question — where do we go next?

Join us as we listen, learn and share stories from across the country that unpack the truth-telling of our history and embrace the rich culture and language of Australia’s First People.

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Australian News

via ABC News- Top Stories https://ift.tt/17CiXg7

May 26, 2020 at 07:18AM

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