In October, those with a connection to the closed Mogumber Native Mission site gathered to share stories of the past and hopes for the future of the site. The site closed in 1974, but prior to this was a government settlement housing Indigenous Australians, many who were part of the Stolen Generations.
Bev Port-Louis, one of the main organisers of the gathering, is a Nyungar elder with strong connections to the site at Mogumber; her grandmother is buried there. Bev is a member of the Bringing Them Home Committee WA, of which the Uniting Church WA is also a member.
“The area where Mogumber sits is in Yuet country and that’s where I grew up,” Bev said.
Bev was approached by Rev Dennis Doust, a retired Uniting Church WA minister, and others who had previously worked at Mogumber, about holding a day for healing. She felt that many of the staff who worked at Mogumber also needed healing, as some felt concerned that they had been part of a hurtful past.
“A lot of the staff now are in their 60s and early 70s and they were teachers there and had other positions. I didn’t want them to have a conscience to think that they did anything wrong because it’s not their fault how the place got set up,” she said.
Guests were invited to share their stories from Mogumber; some were able to share fond childhood memories of the place.
Geoff Bice, justice and mission officer at the Uniting Church WA, read out a letter from Rev Steve Francis, moderator of the Uniting Church WA, and Rev Sealin Garlett, chair of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress WA. The letter reaffirmed the apologies and resolutions made previously by the Uniting Church in Australia. It also called for hope that the site could become a place of healing.
Bev said that the letter was welcomed by those present at the gathering, and that it was a wonderful gesture.
She is now hoping that the community can work with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to revitalise the site into a place of healing for everyone involved.
“If we continue to have gatherings and get-togethers for the people that live in the area I think it will bring some healing,” she said. “And people will still have that attachment to the place.”
Click here to read the letter read at the gathering on behalf of Rev Steve Francis and Rev Sealin Garlett.
Top image: Rev Dennis Doust and Bev Port-Louis at the gathering in Mogumber.