Tributes for Aboriginal trailblazer Lorna Cubillo
Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that this article contains images of people who have passed
CHIEF Minister Michael Gunner has paid tribute to Aboriginal activist Lorna Cubillo, a pioneer who fought for the Stolen Generation to be compensated for the abuses they endured.
She passed away at the age of 81.
Born on Banka Banka station, north of Tennant Creek, Ms Cubillo was taken away from her family at the age of five or six because she was a "half-caste" child.
In 2000, alongside Peter Gunner, a fellow member of the Stolen Generation, Ms Cubillo sued the government in a landmark case that opened the possibility for other members of the Stolen Generation to seek compensation.
The pair did not win the case and the judge ruled, in part, that the Commonwealth was allowed to remove children for their "protection".
Peter Gunner was Chief Minister Michael Gunner's uncle.
"Whatever the law might have said, there is no question that Lorna was stolen," the Chief Minister said.
The Chief Minister said the "terrifying event" of Ms Cubillo being taken away from her family, as a young girl that spoke only Aboriginal languages, would be the start of a "profoundly sad chain of life-changing events".
"The children were taken to nearby Phillip Creek where they schooled for a year or so," he said.
"One day a truck pulled up. The children thought they were being taken on a picnic. But, as Lorna would later say: "Only the half-caste Aboriginal children were told to get on the truck".
"Amid scenes of screaming and panic, with mothers and aunts gashing their heads open with rocks, they were driven north to the Retta Dixon Home in Darwin.
"There Lorna lived for years without knowing the affection of her family. She was punished for speaking her language, flogged for wandering out to pick bush plums."
Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the Territory would never forget Ms Cubillo.
"I know Lorna struggled in life. I do not wish to dwell on that today. What is important is that she remained a fighter to the end who said that her spirit was never broken," he said.
"We will never forget her. Deepest condolences to her children and all her extended family. May she rest in peace."
Originally published as Chief Minister pays tribute to NT Aboriginal trailblazer Lorna Cubillo