Another Anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations has come to pass, and so too has another Reconciliation SA Apology Breakfast.
Organising the event involves so many things; liaising with sponsors, the venue, our own team, and finding key note speakers, musicians, a featured artist, as well as 1,800 people to fill the seats. Frankly put, it is a massive and daunting task; and this year, was no exception. What started as a few hundred people has grown by huge numbers; and so has the work load.
But in our eyes, no amount of work is harder than what the Stolen Generations has been through, as well as their descendants. To be able to honour and celebrate their survival, when many today still deny their existence, is something that is important to us, valuable, and no amount of time or effort will ever make it not worthwhile.
This year, was one of the most successful events, not only was there an overwhelming number of guests, we all had the privilege to witness the debut of Circles and Squares. The poem, by Ali Cobby Eckermann, so beautifully translated into dance, by Yellaka. The imagery in the poem was astounding, it was so intelligently metaphorical, but also amazingly literal. For a circle and square of the same mass is impossible to fit into one another without cutting some of it away. But once trimmed, it can never be whole again.
Yellaka, who are something to behold, was just as amazing. What they have been able to achieve by integrating traditional and contemporary dance is something all First Nations people can look to for inspiration. It’s not only in the dance space that they are doing fantastic things, if you managed to see their Fringe event ‘Yabarra – Dreaming in Light’ you will know what they are capable of.
The Candle Ceremony and a minute’s silence followed this performance and this was the premier moment to honor the Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants. As they, and their descendants held their candles high, with strength and courage, the staff of Reconciliation SA felt a sense of triumph. There is little acknowledgement of the plights that First Nations people face, let alone the Stolen Generations and their descendants, so for us to be able to pull together a crowd to honor them, was a moment we were very proud of.
Breakfast followed, and as the screech’s and scratches from the knives and forks simmered down as people finished their meals, Link Up SA, a service responsible for helping Stolen Generations Survivors and their descendants find their family took to the stage and told their stories.
The link Up SA service must be a difficult role to perform, the hard conversations, the failures, the heartbreak. This is not a role that anyone can undertake, and Reconciliation SA commends the team that spoke on stage, as well as the rest of their team, and the pioneers of the service, that worked to reunite families long before funding was provided from individuals to the former Aboriginal Child Care Agency.
To end the morning, Tony Minniecon and his daughter Ada Parker-Minniecon both graced the stage with their presence. The elegant duo were amazing. Their voices sang out across the room to astonish listeners. As the morning concluded, and people exited, there was a solemn feeling. As if the morning had impacted everyone significantly. While we at Reconciliation SA can’t speak to what everyone else felt, we believe that they will remember the day for a long time to come.
We would like to thank the Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants, everyone who came and shared this experience, and we would like to thank our sponsors, who helped make it all possible.
Please see below for photos from the event:
Photography by: Edoardo Crismani