Launch of a Marker for the Stolen Generations

Wednesday 06 June 2018

Uncle Colin Hunter Welcome to Country
Reko Rennie, Remember Me, 2018. Installation view at the launch with Uncle Colin Hunter pictured. Photo by Nicole Cleary.   

A marker for the Stolen Generations was launched in the Atherton Gardens Housing Estate on Saturday 26 May, the 20th anniversary of National Sorry Day.

Three years in the making, the concept for the Stolen Generations Marker was developed by local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community representatives in collaboration with Yarra Council.

Internationally renowned Kamilaroi/Gamilaroi artist Reko Rennie created the artwork, titled Remember Me. Hundreds of people gathered for the launch on 26 May to celebrate the artwork and to pay tribute to the Stolen Generations and their families. Uncle Colin Hunter delivered a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony before Reko Rennie spoke about Remember Me, an artwork comprising of a number of bronze spears and an empty coolamon (a bark vessel traditionally used to carry babies) with accompanying seating, lighting and landscaping. 

After hearing from artist Reko Rennie, Ian Hamm (CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation) and Muriel Bamblett AM (CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency), the coolamon slowly filled with floral tributes, as community members placed purple flowers inside the vessel, one by one. 

Members of the Djirri Djirri Dance Group and Koori Youth Will Shake Spears performed traditional dances, and celebrated singer-songwriter Kutcha Edwards played a moving set of songs which reflected upon the impacts of the Stolen Generations. A proud and talented Mutti Mutti man, Kutcha Edwards knows the deep pain and loss suffered by Aboriginal people who were forcibly removed from their families. His was among the many families of the Stolen Generations, torn apart from their culture and community. 

“The worst thing you can do is deny a person their belief system. They tried to drown us in religion and deny us of culture” said Edwards. 

Deborah Cheetham AO, was the Master of Ceremonies for the day, and she also sang a beautiful and moving a cappella rendition of Ngarra Burra Ferra. Throughout the day, the community heard from a number of speakers about the direct impacts of being removed from their family and culture including Uncle Jack Charles who closed the event by sharing his story.

As the sun came down huge five-petal purple Desert Roses (Native Hibiscus) drifted down the façade of the Atherton Gardens Housing Estate tower on Gertrude Street in tribute to the Stolen Generations and their families. This large-scale moving image artwork by Nick Azidis was projected onto the building throughout the night in memory of all the children who were taken from their families; and those families forever searching for them.

Remember Me is located in the Atherton Gardens Housing Estate, enter at the corner of Gertrude and Brunswick Streets.  

 Reko Rennie Remember Me

Image by Nicole Cleary: Installation view of Remember Me with the artist, Reko Rennie.

Uncle Jack Charles at Remember Me

Image by Nicole Cleary: Uncle Jack Charles at the launch of Remember Me.

Illana Atkinson

Image by Nicole Cleary: Illana Atkinson.

Djirri djirri dancers

Image by Nicole Cleary: Djirri Djirri Dance Group.

Koorie Youth Will Shake Spears

Image by Nicole Cleary: Koori Youth Will Shake Spears.

Image by Nicole Cleary: Jason Tamiru and Deborah Cheetham AO.

Uncle Jack Charles

Photo by Nicole Cleary: Uncle Jack Charles.

Uncle Jack Charles, Kutcha Edwards and Muriel Bamblett AM

Image by Nicole Cleary: Uncle Jack Charles, Kutcha Edwards and Muriel Bamblett AM.

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