Auntie Cecelia Lois Jane Taylor
Recorded and transcribed by Claire What’s your full name? Cecelia Lois Jane Taylor Where and when were you born? I was born in Newcastle but I’m from the Karuah Mission. I’m the second eldest child of Colleen. Where did you grow up? I grew up here on this reserve. I was 18 when I left this area. I went to Sydney and then came back. I stayed here for a couple of years with my now partner and then moved to Maitland. I had my children while I lived in that area, then moved to Albury for a little break and then we went back to Tamworth. My husband comes from Tamworth so we lived there for a couple of years. Now we’re living in Brisbane, we’ve been there for 20 years. Have you stayed around the Karuah area your whole life? No, we moved on. I had 4 sons so to give them the best opportunity, I thought it was better to get an environment where they can do their sports and education wise as well. That’s why we moved from this area. What memories do you have of the traditional aboriginal life? I can vaguely remember when I was little that we used to have a manager on the mission. He used to live just down on Baronea Road, there were gates across there that we weren’t allowed to go past. We had to stay within the bounds of this mission. We weren’t allowed to mix with anyone outside this area. We had a good life here. We never had telly and we never had electricity so we created all our fun. We played a lot of sport like swimming. We used to go down and get oysters off the rocks and do a lot of fishing. It was just really good memories. We did a lot of activities out the back, out the dam for a walk and make little cubby houses out there. Every afternoon we’d come home from school and play rounders on the mission. All the kids on the mission would come over, make a couple of teams and play until it was dark. Our parents would be singing out to us. Not my parents though, my grandmother raised me so she’d be singing out to us to come home because it was dinner time. Yea, so it was good memories here. What does the gathering today at Karuah mean to you? It was good, they’re all family so it was nice to meet up with them again. I live in Brisbane so it’s a fair bit away. I don’t get to come home as much, normally only when there’s funerals but it was nice to come home on a happy note. Who were some of your friends while you grew up in this community? They weren’t my friends, they were all my family. Everyone that was here was my family so they were family friends as well. It’s better because you have that closeness and you know each other more personally. We lived in each other’s house so there wasn’t any “can I go and sleep at so and so’s place”. Well if you wanted, you were allowed to because that’s how we were. There was trust in letting the kids sleep wherever they wanted. It was a very trusting and caring area. It was a very good environment. What does culture mean to you? How is culture a part of your life? It’s just a part of you, you grow up with it. It never leaves you, it’s always there. We weren’t allowed to know much of it because of the integration with the white society. We weren’t allowed to teach or know much of our culture so it was suppressed. What I did learn or the little bits I did learn, I did pass onto my kids. Now my grandchildren are getting to learn what I know which is very minimal. They would not have any clue with the language. Maybe a few words but that’s about it. What are some changes in our society that you’ve seen in your lifetime. I think there’s a little bit more acceptance of the indigenous people in the wider communities, that’s probably a big change. One of the bad things I guess in this area was when they introduced alcohol and drugs which is not a good thing. It sort of brought our people down a bit further. They have no motivation to get and do anything either which is sad. Where did you go to school? I went to Karuah Public School of course! It’s down the township, we used to walk about a mile. We used to walk across the mud flat, go up the hill and then to the township. I went there till year 6 and then to Roman Terrace. We used to have to walk over to the main road and catch a bus every morning to high school. Do you have any stand-out memories from school? I think I’m just getting too old now, that stuff’s just gone. Sometimes you just need someone to prompt you. When we were having little stories down there before, they were just pointing out things. Did you play and specific sports growing up? Well we used to play rounders here on the mission but when I was in highschool I used to play in the representative softball team that I was selected to be in. It was good. I took up netball when I was 29 and I already had a family then. I was 29 and I was thinking “what am I doing?”. I’ve got 4 kids but they just tagged along with me every Saturday. It was good. What are the main differences between when you went to school then and school now? Back then, they never had any indigenous teachers or indigenous input. It’s been acknowledged now. I’ve done two years to be a primary school teacher but because I moved to Queensland, that was put aside. I wanted to get out into the community and do that. I wanted to retire and do remote teaching but that never happened. That’s ok. What are the values and traditions you were taught? Always respect your elders, that was number 1. When I was growing up, kid was to sit in the corner and be seen not heard. Basically, just be respectful, very respectful. What are some great historical events you have seen in your lifetime? I’m a football fan because I’ve got 4 sons and they all place rugby league. I think what stood out the most was when we had the indigenous side play the first game against the non-indigenous side in Australia. It was up on the Gold Coast and I went up there. I had a little 3-month old granddaughter that came and slept through the noise. It was just phenomenal to see a full indigenous team play and represent our people. We won of course so that was a great thing to see. The achievements a lot of indigenous people you hear of make require them to jump through hurdles like my niece is a doctor. It’s nice to see those things in this day and age. That would never have happened when I was growing up. What are some things that you think indigenous people were able to achieve now that they weren’t able to before? We weren’t allowed to mix at all, we’d get fined if we were seen with a white person. It was pretty horrific. We had to wear dog tags to get off the mission so if you didn’t have a dog tag or a written permission note you’d get locked up and put in jail. It was pretty horrendous so I supposed we’ve moved on. They’re starting to acknowledge who we are but still haven’t got there that we are the traditional owners of this land. It’s being spoken out there now so hopefully in my children’s lifetime or grandchildren’s lifetime it’ll be a different story. What something that you’re really proud of in your life and why? I supposed I’ve made it, I’ve reached the age of 69 with year. I have 4 beautiful children, 13 beautiful grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. That makes me pretty proud. What’s a message you want to leave behind for the next generation of school children? Keep striving, aim for the stars.