Tracking ID UA-126977798-1
A few days ago I saw an article updating a court case that few outside of New South Wales, Australia have heard about, but which was part of our family life since the night I received a phone call from the Gumbaynggir elder, Ken Walker back in 1991. It was a terrible message from him regarding the murders of 3 "Koori" children, including close relatives. All the families on and off the Bowra, Nambucca and Coffs Missions were affected. The community's heart was ripped open. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth but no justice for these children and their families.
For years the Gumbaynggir community sought a rigorous investigation and some form of justice from the police and courts in Bowraville, NSW... but to no avail. They needed support from the Catholic church there, but it was the same Catholic church that had previously participated in identifying and collaborating with NSW government 'child protection' agencies to steal their children for decades- so no recourse or truth could be found within that institution. The tribal "police" and the elders had to use their own means to "see" what had happened.
As fate would have it, when our family moved back to NSW from New Zealand in 1994, I was working in that community again. I was teaching at the TAFE campus where one of the victim's mother and a few of her extended family were taking courses. One court case was dragging on yet still there was no committed investigation and the accused non-Aboriginal man "got off" on some sort of technicality after a long drawn out court hearing.
Then police who had been on the case were conveniently transferred out of the jurisdiction. More lawyers were brought in and international searches and forensic analysis were ordered for one of the children's body which (to this day) had not been found. Witnesses came forward and over the years 19 have died.
I was working with my partner, Tresna Carriage, in a long term project researching and archiving histories of the "Stolen Generations" policies and the effects on the Gumbaynggir, Dungutti and Bundjalung families in the area. One of the elders, Neviille Buchannon, known affectionately as "Uncle Duck" was doing his own investigation and also searching for information on one of his brothers. He and 5 of his siblings had been captured by the "welfare" and taken away-stolen from their own family home on the 'mission' when they were very young. They had been separated and sent to different farms and factories to work as slaves. Uncle Duck never gave up searching for the rest of his family after he was able to run away and return to Bowraville.
(see photo below with Neviille Buchannan in NSW 1996- photo by Tresna Carriage)
Throughout the next decades the fabric of life was torn in the Gumbaynggir community by these deaths, then the sudden deaths of young men who would have been strong elders and then more deaths of elders like Ken Walker (pictured above with my son Denali) who died about the same time Denali and Marty Schmidt died far away from Australia-in Pakistan. All three passed on over the threshold at the end of July 2013, 5 years ago.
Both Uncle Ken Walker and Uncle Neviille Buchanan and other elders I know and worked with, often spoke of the "Dreamtime". I was connected to it since I was a child.
Dreamtime does not have the same boundaries of time, location or form as what most people understand as "present, past, future" and "space". IF you know how to listen, Dreamtime can guide you, warn you, advise you through the "old fellas". That's about all I will write about it on the "spiderweb" as Auntie Emily Walker would call the "net". World wide web.
In my day and night dreams I spiral back to a collage of scenes: of my son, uncles and aunties from Gumbaynggir and Dungutti lands, the mts. of Pakistan, and the hills of Tuscany-where I was in July 2013. Italy was where I first heard the news of all three men's deaths.
I also vividly remember the day of our son's birth which was hours after my friend, Tracy, and her husband Paul Knox Sr.'s second son, they named Jerrara, was born. Tracy and I were both giving birth in Macksville hospital on the same day-April 27,1988. They only had about 10 beds in that rural hospital, so we were within speaking distance of one another.
(photo of Tracy, Paul Sr. and Jerrara 1988 NSW)
This memory is mixed with the scenes of Paul Sr.'s funeral when he died so suddenly so young. I traveled from Christchurch to Bowraville with my children to support Tracy, since Ruth Walker had called me and asked for "the whole family to be there."
My memory collage includes the feeling of such happiness at seeing Tracy again last year (2017) with her youngest two children growing up so well and her eldest son Paul Jr. with his own large beautiful family.
Death, birth, memory meshed with dreams and the continuum it creates...is not something to be afraid of. My own grandparents and my Gumbaynggir family taught me that.
Supposedly the next stage of the Bowraville murders court case will be heard and adjudicated next month-if they don't stall it yet again. (see news articles linked)
I reckon all the "old fellas" will be looking down and about on this one..."callin out" to us no matter where we may be on this planet...to pray and dream on and to help for this next stage of the journey and for some 'closure', after more than a quarter of a century. We will never forget. We will be still and listen to the winds as the next verdict is read. Murders- especially murders of children- shout out across time and distance for justice.
Ginagay to all my family over there. May you find justice and peace....very soon.
Where so many families, especially Christian families, have been torn by murder, war, rape, torture, persecution and injustice.
Signing off for now,
FYI- Now I am on twitter (I nick name it "bragger") my handle is: Jo Patti@JoPatti5
(photo of Uncle Ken at my birthday back on Bundilla, NSW with Denali-1996)