Thursday, 16 June 2011

Reading for Reconciliation

As part of National Reconciliation Week, I visited the State Library of Queensland to participate in the Reading for Reconciliation program.

This terrific local program brings together children and young adults to read, challenge and discuss their ideas about reconciliation.

In 2011, the Reading for Reconciliation Group invited schools to read the work of prominent Aboriginal writer and activist, Aunty Ruth Hegarty. Her acclaimed first novel, Is that you Ruthie?, is a beautifully written memoir of a woman who has dedicated her life to her family and people.

As part of the program, students from our local area were encouraged to read the book and then come together with Aunty Ruth to talk about it.

They came together to listen to Aunty Ruth share her experiences as one of Queensland’s dormitory girls. We watched performances of the passages from the book and we learned a thing or two about the way in which our past influenced and shaped the lives of our Indigenous brothers and sisters.

The students asked lots of questions about what life was like for Aboriginal people growing up in the dorms. One little boy asked – “How did you know that your mum still loved you after you were taken away?”

It was heartfelt and reflective – and it was great to see so many local students involved.

I really enjoyed being a part of this important local program. Being able to listen to Aunty Ruth share her stories with such strength and humour was a humbling experience.

I thank Aunty Ruth for her kindness and compassion and her continued dedication to her people. She is a remarkable woman and a wonderful community leader.

With this program, and others around our community, it’s all about recognition – by honouring the past we can make a difference into the future.

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