Remembering my Bargy this National Sorry Day by Lillian Arnold-Rendell

26.05.21 SHARE

Remembering my Bargy this National Sorry Day by Lillian Arnold-Rendell

Koorie Youth Council

Today, 26 May 2021, marks the 24th anniversary of the handing down of the Bringing Them Home Report. This day is known as National Sorry Day.

On this day, I remember them. I mourn the loss of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies and children who were stolen. Stolen from their families, communities, Country and culture.

Today, I acknowledge not only the babies and children stolen between 1910-1970, but those stolen prior and those lost since then. I acknowledge and mourn the loss of families that were fractured forever. I mourn the loss of our Stolen Generation Survivors that will never make it home to family, community or Country, but their memories we never forget and the justice we will never stop fighting for.

“Lest We Forget” our nation laments in regard to our ANZACs, and rightfully so, but fails to acknowledge or respect the long-lasting, lifelong pain and harm that the past policies and government acts have done to our Stolen Generation Survivors and to their families.

Our nation seemingly wants to forget or sweep under the rug the atrocities our Stolen Generation Survivors and families faced: “we said sorry”, “it all happened so long ago”, but failing to realise the ongoing trauma for the Stolen Generation Survivors who are still with us and the impact on their children and families.

I mourn the loss of my Bargy (grandmother) who was a Stolen Generation Survivor, taken from her mother and her 5 brothers in the early 1960s, and from her beautiful Country in the Pilliga Scrub to the Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls Training Home. Taken with her sister to a foreign place, where the girls lived in perpetual fear of emotional, spiritual, sexual, physical and cultural abuse. To never see her mother again, to be denied an education, to be denied wages for the work she did and not allowed to visit her family back home to practice culture or learn language.

Two young people standing behind an older woman against a brick wall with a picture frame hanging on it. All three people are smiling.

Lillian (right) and her brother with Bargy.

On this day, I mourn the loss of Bargy, who passed at the age of 54, who passed away a mere year before she could even hear the government apologise for their wrong-doings, and who are still attempting to right the wrongs of the past.

I reflect on the intergenerational trauma that has been passed through my family because of her removal; the loss of connections to family, culture, language and Country that my family have, and many others continue to experience.

As much as this day pains me and many mob, I always remember that even though we’ve been affected because of intergenerational trauma that passes through our genetics, our strength, resilience and Blak excellence does too.

This day reminds me that despite the abuse my Bargy faced, she was a survivor, she was kind-hearted, loving and held her family in the highest regard.

I know in a way, we were lucky though; Our Doolan Queen found her way home to Country and family before she passed and because of this, so did we.

Lillian Arnold-Rendell is a proud Dharug and Kamiliroi woman living in Narrm on Wurundjeri Country. Lillian has been a KYC Executive member since 2017.