Reconciliation is ‘ours’ – June Oscar AO
On Thursday 19 May 2016, June Oscar AO received the Global Reconciliation Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Fellowship Award for her extraordinary work in reconciliation.
The award, jointly funded by Dusseldorp Forum and the Humanity Foundation, acknowledges June’s leadership in strengthening the power of women and their families in the Fitzroy Valley and creating more culturally rich and healthy lives for Indigenous peoples.
In celebration of National Reconciliation Week 2016 we would like to share an extract from June’s rousing acceptance speech, for which she received a standing ovation.
Broadly, let me tell you all, reconciliation is ‘ours’. It is a process that belongs to all of ‘us’. To reconcile (for me) means togetherness. Whether it’s an acceptance of an idea, a change in governance structures to incorporate more voices, settling a dispute within a family or community, or a renewed reflection on history; reconciliation is based on relationships. It is formed through interconnections. Reconciliation is never a lone ranger.
When I think of it like this, my entire life, all of our lives to one degree or another, are a reconciling journey.
For many reasons this journey has come to define who I am. As a Bunuba person, a woman, an Australian citizen, an Australian Aboriginal person, a person with European heritage, I stand at the crossroads of a complex set of identities. I don’t want to resist any of them. I don’t want to assimilate into anyone of them. I want to reconcile them. To choose how I embody them in my daily life without fear that any one part of myself will be persecuted or discriminated against.
My message is this: never leave reconciliation in the hands of another.
Reconciliation is everyone’s business. It is for all to contribute and participate. We must reach beyond our worlds and interact with those who are not in our daily lives. In doing this we learn about the rich and complex histories of our nation and we also ascribe meaning to the lives of others.
I believe the time is now to begin this journey and never let it end. Australia is ready to reconcile.
Congratulations June on your well-deserved award and for such bravery and determination in guiding positive change for us all.
June’s entire speech is well worth the read. You can find it here in full.
Image supplied by Global Reconciliation.