Uncle Ray

Sydney People
Uncle Ray

Pastor, leader of the Coloured Diggers Movement and Deputy Chairman of the Babana Aboriginal Men’s Group

“I'm the deputy chairperson of Babana Aboriginal Men’s Group here in Redfern. I first got involved through the churches where I worked as a pastor.

“One of the things we wanted to achieve through Babana Men’s Group and the Coloured Diggers Project was to have a community march on Anzac Day. 

“Now every year we hold the Coloured Diggers March in Redfern. We start at the cenotaph there by laying our wreaths and then we march from there down into The Block, the Redfern Community Centre. It’s a very special day for our people.

“Every year Michael Hannah, he’s the guy who owns Harry’s Café de Wheels, gives us free pies because that was part of the war too – these pies – and so we enjoy our relationship with him.

“One of the other aims of our project was to have a sculpture or a memorial for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans. 

“We got it through Tony Albert and the City of Sydney and we’re very, very thankful for that but that’s not the end of it. We need not just one, we need many, many sculptures right throughout the country.

“Why do I think it’s important to honour them? Because they haven’t been honoured. They are the unknown, the forgotten heroes of this country and you can't just honour one side of the community in saying: “All these whitefellas fought for this country” without honouring the people of the land, the First Nations people.

“Many of them didn’t get the allocation of land, the pensions, all of those kind of things that were given to all the other diggers when they came home and I think they were very, very deeply hurt and wounded by that. And so that’s a part of why we have to march and make sure that they're recognised.

“This is something that the community are very, very strong about. This is something that our community needed to do. It’s not about me, it’s about us.”

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Last updated: Monday, 10 November 2014