On missionary wrongs

Ngardarb Riches tells of cultural loss and one apology.



Ngardarb Riches tells of cultural loss and one apology.


I can only speak from my experience and my people, but I have seen the effects of what happened in other missions that were neighbours to us or, you know, from other parts of the land that were quite negative, where language was completely stopped and practices of culture were stopped. I think with Christian missions there was a little bit more freedom, even though there was strict rules and of course they were governed by the government anyway, so they had to do as they’re told a lot of the time.

But they just didn’t understand Aboriginal culture, our way of life, and they were always looking at us and our culture through their lenses and so it was different. I had an old missionary friend that passed a couple of years ago, she was in her 90s but she came to our island, on Sunday Island, and she was a schoolteacher, a missionary schoolteacher, and she said to me, “You know, if I had to do it over again I would have gone back and learnt the culture and the language first instead of just coming and imposing my beliefs and way of life, you know?”