YOUR STORY: We need to celebrate our culture,family heritage
HEATHER Robinson is my great-grandmother.
She was born at Yates Flat near Baryulgil and raised around there and Drake as a young child.
My great-grandmother was born Heather Donnelly and eventually she married Mick Robinson at Baryulgil.
They had a number of children, Noreen, Cecil, Grace, Margaret, Eric and Allan.
During this time my great- grandmother lived with her children in Grafton.
The eldest daughter, Noreen, had a girl named Judy.
She is my mother.
My Nanny Heather was sent to Sydney as a young girl to be a servant at some of the finer homes in Strathfield, she was just a teenager.
My mum spent most of her early childhood travelling with my nan and pop across northern NSW and lived in Baryulgil during the time of the asbestos mine.
Her constant phlegmy cough and bouts of pneumonia are reminders of this time as a child.
I have many stories that Mum, Nan and Nanny Heather told me about living in Baryulgil with the mine and the innocence everyone had at the time. We are still paying for that innocence.
Having grown up my whole childhood in Sydney I knew very little of the Grafton or Clarence area other than what my Elders had passed on through their stories.
For this reason my love of being a Bundjalung man is extremely strong within me.
As I never knew Grafton or Baryulgil, I still felt very strongly that it was my home and my Country.
I had the advantage of knowing about my heritage and culture. This was my identity.
My children, nieces and nephews all know about their strong connection to the Bundjalung Nation.
I know first-hand just how much belonging and identity means to a person.
It is more significant in the Goori (Aboriginal) context. We need to know we belong to a special place or group and know and understand our position and where we fit in the context of our family.
It's how we teach our children in order to pass our heritage on to the next generation.
We need to celebrate our heritage and culture and share the joy of being an Aboriginal person, with ourselves and with everyone else around us.
Understanding who we are and where we come from is a major first step in developing sound relationships.
My message is simple; take the time to talk, take the time to listen and take the time to know who we all are.
Darren Kershaw, Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation Grafton.