Monday, May 26, 2008

"We've come home, now"

Archie Roach and Rubie Hunter play for the Sorry day commemorations
Today was Sorry Day – the tenth anniversary of the first Sorry Day, in fact. Part of Melbourne Aboriginal community's commemorations this day was observing this anniversary and reminder of what they have been through.

It also served as a reminder to the non-Indigenous community that despite the federal government's national apology to the Stolen Generations, there is much that needs to be done to address Indigenous disadvantage in this country – not the least of which is financial compensation for members of the Stolen Generations, as part of the full reparations to them recommended by the Bringing Them Home report.

Archie and Ruby
Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter, with their band, performed at Federation Square in the late afternoon as part of the commemorations, and as usual their performance was powerful.

Archie Roach in song
When Archie started to sing 'Took the children away', all those present went up to the foot of the stage to place a white flower on the wreath that was placed there to commemorate all those who had suffered the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families – those stolen passed and present, and their families who suffered unbearable loss. It was powerful moment. And not one I wanted to spoil by taking photos of.

Archie Roach and band
Archie also spoke about how important being a father and being part of a family is to him now, particularly in light of his experience of being a member of the Stolen Generation. I'm uncertain if the lyrics were in the original version of his song, but Archie now finishes the song by singing "We've come home, now", from which the title of this post is taken. The roar of approval and applause from the crowd sent a chill down my spine.

Archie Roach

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At May 26, 2008 11:53 pm, Blogger parlance said...

Mark, those photos are beautiful and the one in close-up of Archie biting his lip is extremely moving.

Just an anecdote about Archie Roach. His children attended a local school in Thornbury for a couple of years. A few years later, when he was already famous, he and Ruby Hunter came to the school, with all their equipment, and performed a concert for the hundred or so children, in the school hall. They would have received no money, no publicity, no kudos. They just did it for the kids.
I respect them both tremendously.


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