Wreaths were laid and experiences shared during yesterday’s Sorry Day commemorations at Monash Park in Shepparton.
Hundreds of school students, Aboriginal elders, public servicemen and community members gathered to recognise and acknowledge the members of the Stolen Generations.
These indigenous Australians were removed from their families and communities, an event recognised 21 years ago when the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Federal Parliament.
Aunty Faye Lynam was just eight when she was taken away from her father, someone she never saw again.
Each year she attends Sorry Day commemorations, remembering the pain she and others experienced. Yesterday, she shared her own story.
‘‘I was taken away when I was eight years old and I never say my dad again,’’ she said.
‘‘It hurt so much ... whenever I would go anywhere in the car I would be looking around out the window to see if I could see a dark person so I could run and ask them if they knew my dad.’’
When she was 18, Ms Lynam returned to her brother and it was then she started to meet her extended family.
To this day, Ms Lynam is still learning about family she did not know she had.
Following her own experiences, Ms Lynam spent years as a foster carer, sharing her home and heart with children in need.
‘‘I had 40-odd foster children and I worked to take them home, give them a bath, feed them and love them,’’ she said.
‘‘I wish there was somebody around like that when we were all split up; but never mind, the message is getting out there.’’
Mooroopna Secondary College dancers performed a traditional indigenous dance, while other regional students shared the history and importance of acknowledging the day each year.
Shepparton Region Reconciliation Group convener Deirdre Robertson said it was encouraging to see so many young students attend the ceremony and share in the history of the generations before them.
‘‘These students are going to be our future leaders so for them understanding about our history is really important,’’ she said.
Ms Robertson said it was a brave feat for the indigenous men and women who came forward and shared their experiences with the community.
She said while there were many celebratory events in history, there were also a number of occasions that needed to be remembered.
‘‘It took an enormous amount of courage for them to come and speak their stories, and tell of the pain of being taken from their families, their culture and their country,’’ she said.
‘‘You can’t really go forward unless you really understand where you have come from.’’