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13 February 2008

Sorry is the first step



Above is the Australian Aboriginal flag, created in 1971 by Harold Thomas.

It's been a long time coming but this morning, the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, will apologise to the aboriginal people and the stolen generations, for the injustices and hurt caused by government policies of the past.

There is a full story
about it here, but for those of you who know little of our history it used to be government policy to take some aboriginal children from their parents and have them raised by church institutions or white families. About 100,000 families were affected between 1910 and 1970.

Australia is divided on this issue. Many people think we should not apologise for something we didn't do but I agree with Kevin Rudd. I think it is the right thing for him, as the current Prime Minister, to apologise for the actions of former governments that we now know to be wrong and which caused a lot of pain and sorrow.

Today, the Neighbourhood Centre I work at is hosting a morning tea for our town's residents so we can watch the apology together. I have an Aboriginal flag to hang as a sign of respect for our fellow Australians.

This is an historic day in Australia. I hope the apology will help heal the stolen generations and their families. We have a long way to go but hopefully this will be the first step towards reconciliation
.

26 comments:

  1. Oh, Jenny! :(
    I remember watching Rabbit-Proof Fence(2002) and being horrified.
    This sounds like a step in the right direction. Hope you ladies enjoy your tea, and a chance to dream about new beginnings.
    Robin in Ca.

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  2. Apologies! Apologies! :-O
    Of course I meant to say "Rhonda." :)
    Robin in Ca.

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  3. Hi Robin. Yes, it is a step in the right direction. I have just finished making 50 scones. I'll serve these with rosella jam and cream with the tea and coffee. I hope men and women join us, I have also invited the kids from the Flexischool. It should be a wonderful gathering. : - )

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  4. Rhonda-they had a great piece on the apology this morning on CNN here in the US.

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  5. that's good to know, Sharon. I'm glad it's getting a wide audience. We need to publically acknowledge past mistakes and then get on with making this great nation a land of opportunity for all Australians.

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  6. I, too, saw the movie Rabbit-Proof Fence and you are right. Even though these things happened in the past it is the right thing to do for the government to apologize. The same thing happened to an extent here in America with Native Americans. Tea and scones sound lovely for your little gathering!

    Kristina

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  7. I too think it's a step in the right direction to apologise.It is an opportunity to heal, build bridges, and acknowledge that actions taken in the past were unacceptable and inhumane. I vividly remember that film Rabbit Proof Fence, it was quite haunting. Rhonda, I hope your day goes well, and you all enjoy your tea (those scones sound delicious!) Diana x

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  8. I was going to mention the Native Americans who lived through something similar here in the US, but anonymous beat me to it. I was not aware that this happened in your country. Thank you for sharing this. I'm still learning something new (at least one thing) every day.

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  9. Hi Rhonda,

    I too think this is a great step in the right direction. I hope it"s something we can build on. When I heard the comments from one indigenous leader last year on Philip Adams LNL, saying that things are worse now than in the 60's when the referendum to vote was held, and that in her opinion in the present climate it wouldn't even be passed today, I thought what has gone wrong? Surely there's still a lot that can be done to improve things. Here's to hoping!

    Regards, Marilyn

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  10. Rhonda,

    it is definitely a step in the right direction.

    Here in Canada the Churches -- Roman Catholic, Anglican, United (Presbyterian uncertain) are in the midst of paying out restitution monies to former First Nations students at the residential schools. Of course the onus is on the students to provide proof that they attended these schools before they can receive their restitution. And the schools destroyed many of their records.

    But it is a step in the right direction.

    I too saw Rabbit-Proof Fence -- beautiful and haunting film.

    When the evening news comes on at 6 I will see if it is mentioned at all. The focus on the morning news was about the countdown to Vancouver 2010 -- 2 years and counting!

    Maggie

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  11. Acknowledging wrong doing and injustice is always a step in the right direction. Perhaps, (we can hope) this may encourage other leaders to follow suit.

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  12. I too have a copy of Rabbit-Proof Fence which has been often loaned to friends in video sharing. I cried and I don't know anyone that saw it that didn't. Even the men, including my brother who said he couldn't wait to hug his little girl the next day. It's so tragic how cultures with so much to offer get decimated. I hope one day being different wont be seen as something to be erased but something appreciated and shared. Thanks for posting the good news Rhonda.

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  13. This is a wonderful day, hopefully a new beginning, a place to start the healing. I have been reading 'The Burnt Stick' by Anthony Hill and 'PilWuk: When I was Young' by Janeen Brian to the children today. They are both wonderful books they tell the story of the stolen generation.

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  14. When I hear of the injustices done to others, my heart hurts for them. I thank God that someone occasionally sees the wrong and tries to right it, however the damage done can never be erased from the victims. The apology is a good beginning. Thank you for posting this.
    Alice in Georgia (USA)

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  15. I had never heard this historical story and feel awful for what the children & parents must have gone thru. I have five children & can't fathom having them taken from me!

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  16. Wow that is fabulous to hear. I have a little understanding of the history , this is huge! How awesome to think of the healing to come.

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  17. Thanks RJ for your post of this symbolic and important speech. When I first became away of Australia's repulsive actions towards indigenous Australians I was horrified and deeply upset for the children, mothers and families. It was only then that I truly understood that I must develop a healthy scepticism and an open mind and never turn my back on injustices. How could I have not learnt about this at school?? why did my education blind me to the gross injustices. Why did it take me to study Indigenous history and politics at the age of 30 was I discovering horrific crimes against innocence people. The prime minister got it right!!! sorry is a mark of recognition and respect. Just like when you say sorry to friends and relatives when hardships become them, you say sorry..not such a hard thing to say.
    Bella

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  18. Wanted to add to this that sorry is not such a hard thing to say but its gentleness and tenderness is worth its weight in gold when there is the heaviness of grief in one's heart. Watching the relief and gratitude on the faces of indigenous people on TV just now has filled me with tears.
    Bella

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  19. Good morning Rhonda, just want to let you know that it was on our morning news here in the Netherlands. And as you write it is a first step...hopefully this could be an example for other countries / people.
    Ingeborg in Holland.

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  20. Hi Rhonda

    It was covered on the main news here in France too.

    The apology is a step in the right direction. While it might not right any wrongs it acknowledges them rather than brushing them under the carpet and pretending it never happened.

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  21. Rhonda,

    It made the National Evening news here in Canada.

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  22. It was on our news too.

    The British don't have a great track record on some issues if we look back into our history. I think apologising is a small but good start in acknowledging past mistakes and helps build better relationships for the future.

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  23. Here’s a post idea for you.

    Progressive Farmer Magazine has just crowned Maryland's Kent County and nine other best rural places to live based on their ability to thrive--even during struggles--among other quality-of-life statistics. Rankings are further indication of growing interest in rural living in America. Kent County, Maryland, was awarded top honors in the fourth annual edition of the "Best Places to Live in Rural America" rankings. Each year, the rankings name the top 10 rural counties in the nation, according to several quality-of-life indicators and statistics such as great schools, access to health care, low crime and affordable farmland. All 10 counties are profiled in the February 2008 issue of The Progressive Farmer, and the top 500 rural counties are listed on the magazine’s web site at

    www.progressivefarmer.com.

    It’s a great celebration of the people that make these rural places special. It shows what they’re doing to keep their rural counties rural. It is a great way for other places--small towns, counties, rural areas--that face the same challenges to find ideas for their areas.

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  24. I was in Australia last year and they had "sorry day". I remember seeing a march down George Street in Sydney. I thought that was the country's rememberence for the poor treatment of Aboriginals. I wasn't aware the government had not officially apologized.

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  25. Definitely the right thing to do. Taking a stand and apologising is not necessarily an admission of guilt, more an acceptance that things were done without full appreciation of the consequences.

    I was completely unaware of what had happened to these children until I visited Australia and saw a display in a museum - I think it was in Sydney.

    Could not believe that anyone would do something so callous.

    D.

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  26. Sorry should have been the first step to great change, but in reality as I look at that day all these years on I now see it as my First Nations friends see it, another government stalling tactic. Sad really, that day I felt so proud as I watched that event.

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