Coota Girls to mark Sorry Day in Botanic Gardens

For many members of the Stolen Generations and their descendants, Sorry Day is official recognition of a dark history of forced child removal that was, for a long time, denied.

It marks the publication of the Bringing Them Home report in 1997 that looked into the painful history of the Stolen Generations and made 54 recommendations including holding a national Sorry Day each year.

National Sorry Day on May 26 commemorates and acknowledges the atrocities faced by First Nations children who were forcibly removed from their families and communities and the continuing impacts on Stolen Generations survivors, their families and communities.

Some of the children were taken from their families and sent to the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls or the Kinchela Boys Home.

Both of those institutions were brutal and dehumanising to the children forced to live there.

The girls were trained to be servants and referred to as “inmates”, cut off from their families and not allowed to speak their own languages.

Kinchela Boys Home, on the NSW midnorth coast, is one of the most notorious institutions associated with the Stolen Generations.

The boys endured physical hardship, punishment, cruelty, alienation and abuse (cultural, physical, psychological and sexual).

On Saturday, Coota Girls Aboriginal Corporation, in partnership with Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation, will host a Stolen Generations community gathering in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens on Gadigal Country.

Coota Girls chief executive Alicia Bairle said it was a day to recognise the strength and resilience of the Stolen Generations.

“It is critical that we continue to commemorate the horrifying legacy of the forcible removal of First Nations children and to show strong public support for the implementation of recommendations made in the Bringing them Home report,” she said.

Coota Girls Aboriginal Corporation is partnering with a range of First Nations organisations to provide cultural immersion experiences including dance, live music, art, weaving, eco-dying, plant knowledge, traditional games and more.

Reconciliation Australia chief executive Karen Mundine will introduce the NSW South Coast choir Djinama Yilaga choir as part of the National Reconciliation Week Be a Voice for Generations choir event which will see more than 500 choirs across Australia perform the song From Little Things Big Things Grow.

“Every Aboriginal person in NSW has heard the horror stories of the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls or is related to a Survivor of that place, and so it is very special that at the start of National Reconciliation Week, I am here,” she said.

“This week is a time for Australians to learn about our shared histories, including the stories Coota Girls Survivors and all the other members of the Stolen Generations.”

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