Internet Edition Issue 5
The Essential "Kimberley Companion"
La Grange Mission 50th Anniversary
From the Office of Justice,
Ecology & Peace
Opening of Kimberley Education and Resource Centre
By Bishop Christopher Saunders
History of past events points the
way to the future
World From Patrons To Partners is a history of the Catholic Church in the Kimberley (1884-1984). Mark Bin Bakar, the Chairman of the Kimberley Stolen Generation Committee, in the presence of the author Margaret Zucker, launched the new edition of the book on National Aboriginal Sunday, in the grounds of Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral. A large crowd of local people and visitors gathered in and around the specially erected tent near the Father Nicholas Emo Centre for this significant occasion.
The new edition of the book has a cover photo of the striking hand-carved statue of the Warmun Madonna sometimes referred to as The Pregnant Mary. There is also a new Chapter, an addition to the first imprint, on The Separated Children of the Kimberley. In fact the need for this chapter is the prime reason for the revised edition.
Back row: (l) John Cooper, Mark Bin Bakar, Keith Kitchener, Bishop Saunders.
Front row: (l) Phyllis Bin Bakar, Daisy Howard, Maggie Lands, Marjorie Hunter
Photo: A Hayden
The much lauded history book was first published in 1995 a year before the issue of the Stolen Generation came into public prominence in 1996 and subsequently the first publication makes little mention of the Separated Children. This omission was nobody’s fault – matters of the Separated Children simply weren’t spoken about until the Human Rights Commission Hearings that year. However, the absence of this topic from the First Edition rendered it incomplete and to that degree, inadequate. After 1996, the year of the Commission, it was not right to promote a history of the Catholic Church in the Kimberley that did not deal adequately with the matter of the Separated Children. This need was the genesis of the new edition.
The author Marg Zucker very generously took up the challenge to thoroughly research the topic and to write the additional chapter. She dutifully poured over archives and various publications, interviewed a large number of Stolen Generation people and their descendants, and spoke at length to hosts of others. Her additional
work on the book is a comprehensive record of events that embraces the feelings of those involved and the longer-term consequences of the Government Policy of separating children of mixed blood from their families. All this was written in the context of what was already a very readable and erudite history of the Catholic Church in WA’s far north. Further, the new additional chapter contains a specific
reference to my 1996 submission to the Human Rights Commission on the Separated Children. With the advantage of hindsight, there I outlined an apology for any hurt suffered by those sent to Catholic institutions by Government Authorities.
Having read again this wonderful treatise, From Patrons to Partners, it is confirmed in my mind once more just how important it is to know your history, the building blocks of the future. Every milestone gained in the past was the result of unshakable faith and constant hard work. The gallant efforts of past missionaries
were driven by a divine hope, as were the struggles of Aboriginal people to survive in the face of an oppressive colonial regime. The Church of tomorrow must learn to borrow heavily from the enthusiasm, the imagination and the courage of the
past. That we recognize there have been mistakes along the way of our history is a reassuring discovery that will enable us not to repeat them. That we can acknowledge great achievements in past endeavours is a cause to give thanks to almighty God. I hope you too find the new book inspirational.