My very dear friend was deeply affected by the Apology Day to the Stolen Generation of Aboriginal Australians as the high profile, political build up brought to the surface many things that happened to her that still have impact today.
It was not a celebratory week for her and she refused the offer to go to Canberra as part of the group representing the Stolen children who have survived.
For those outside of Australia who do not know, Australia had a rigorous, uncompromising White Australia policy in place for many years of the 20th century and Aboriginal children were taken from their Mothers and Fathers, forcibly removed, with no reason other than they were Black children. Many of the survivors of the child-removals refer to ‘when I was kidnapped’ and it is a term that is very fitting regardless that they were removed by ‘authorities’ who gave themselves the power to subjugate Aboriginal people for many years. Kidnapping of children is none the less serious or devastating because it is a ‘policy’ by the government.It is the ultimate abuse f human rights, to take a child from his /her mother and refuse any more contact.
The grief and trauma is still very current in many people’s lives today so the Rudd Governments pledge to “Apologise” was presented as a gesture of healing and reconciliation – although it was made clear there would be no compensation or legal recourse available to the children who survived the kidnappings. Many white Australians have been compensated for far lesser injustices .
My beautiful friend is one of those survivors along with her Sisters. She is a counsellor and healer herself and knows better than anyone what it takes to survive such widespread child theft and disintegration of Family, Aboriginal Law and Culture by the European arrivals who believed the Aboriginal people to be inferior and were often referred to as ‘savages’. Removing people from their homeland also meant that land could be stolen for grazing sheep and mining. This Land Rights based on thousands of years of occupation continues in the courts today in Australia.
On the weekend after the Apology my friend spent a couple of days with Sal and I and I invited her to create a piece of empowerment art to honour the Mother she never knew and the Sisters who were lost to her. The Apology opened up old and deep wounds, the death of her Mother who was never reunited with her Children is a pain my friend lives with in spite of her years of healing and recovery. It runs too deep to ever be completely free of the heartache of losing ones right to grow u with the Woman who gave you birth and loved you deeply. I understood that what my friend needed was not more talking about it all but an opportunity to give shape and form to her sadness and release the anguish from her body in a physical, palpable way.
We created the ‘base’ beads using arir-drying clay, they had a Mother / Goddess theme you can see here:
We painted the base coat and then she took the beads home with her after we spent a bit of time in the market picking the black and orange ‘filler” beads:
Words could not express the joy in my heart when my friend came to see me yesterday on the way back from a gathering of her colleagues who work with the Stolen Generation and she showed me her clay “Empowerment Necklace” in progress…
As I held the amazingly energised, vibrant beads in my hand I knew beyond any doubt that “creating” offers avenues and pathways that ‘counseling’ rarely travels along.. Creativity shifts the energy outside of the body bringing both release and the ‘alchemy’ of making something tangible from something unseen yet profoundly strong in the mind /body /Spirt /emotional circuitry system.
My friends Mother, Sisters, Daughters, Aunty and Grandmothers were all there in this beautiful strand of ‘story beads’..
I love my friend…her resolve not to let the shocking events of her childhood overwhelm her never ceases to amaze me…
Here we are wearing our beads that honour the Mothers whose children were snatched from their arms because the white people in government believed they were inferior to Europeans and needing to be controlled.
Honouring the Fathers, Uncles, Brothers, Grandfathers and Sons also is another chapter of the healing journey unfolding…