COMING TOGETHER: Cherbourg elder Lillian Gray says she supports celebrating Australia Day on January 26. Picture: Jessica McGrath
COMING TOGETHER: Cherbourg elder Lillian Gray says she supports celebrating Australia Day on January 26. Picture: Jessica McGrath

Cherbourg elder speaks out: ‘We have to be forgiving’

CHERBOURG elder Lillian Gray says despite the recent controversy, she completely supports celebrating Australia Day on January 26.

"I think we should all start coming together as one nation, the first nation people and the non-indigenous people of Australia.

"We are a multicultural country and we need to start acting like one," she said.

"I for one will be celebrating Australia on Sunday."

On January 26, Ms Gray will travel to Proston to perform at the Golden Spurr motel with a group of indigenous entertainers.

"I'm really excited to go and sing there on Australia Day," she said.

"There's about five or six of us going. Anyone is welcome to come along and watch us or join in."

Ms Gray said she understood why some of her people referred to the day as 'Invasion Day'.

"To them it's Invasion Day because of what Captain Cook and his people did to our people," she said.

"But it's year 2020 and we need to now start working together and supporting each other instead.

"I know a lot of bad things happened to my people. My grandparents and my parents suffered too.

"But sometimes in our life we have to be forgiving and move on. I would like to see this happen this year."

Ms Gray said to her it meant a lot to be Australian, and she wants to use the day to celebrate her love for our nation.

"I'm 72 years of age and I'm a proud Cherbourg indigenous Australian woman," she said.

"I was born in Cherbourg and I love being here among my family and my people and my culture.

"We should all be proud to be Australian.

"We have so much to be grateful for. This is a great, free country and it's a safe country, unlike a lot of other places right now. We have no wars or big dangers.

"I am thankful to live here and proud to be from here. I'm an Aboriginal Australian and that means a lot to me. I will be celebrating that this Saturday."

It was only recently Ms Gray even heard her people refer to the national holiday as 'Invasion Day'.

"I understand where they are coming from but I just think we can't change what happened and what Australia is," Ms Gray said.

"I've never really worried about it being Invasion Day or changing the date. It didn't really matter to me.

"I know a lot of people from my culture who wouldn't agree with me, but these are my views and I'm going to share them.

"But I do also respect their opinions because they have a right to it and to be heard."

Cherbourg's Ration Shed was contacted for comment.

The Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council was contacted for comment.

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