July 25, 2019
Lots of memories – and many stories – were shared in Cherbourg on Saturday with the official opening of the Domo Exhibition in the historical precinct.
The Boys Dormitory building, which stands alongside The Ration Shed, has been totally refurbished and now houses historic photos and displays from the Dormitory period of Cherbourg’s history.
Former “Domo Boys” and “Domo Girls” returned to the town for the ceremony, many travelling a long way for the occasion.
After a smoking ceremony by Aunty Kathy Fisher, proceedings got under way when The Ration Shed’s Aunty Sandra Morgan rang a bell … a haunting sound for the former residents who well-remembered when a bell controlled their days.
There were formal speeches by Aunty Sandra, Cherbourg Mayor Arnold Murray and special guest David Wragge followed by an enthusiastic performance by the Wakka Wakka dancers.
“I myself spent time in this building,” Mayor Murray said.
“We were only children and we didn’t know the evil that was being done to us in the name of ‘civilisation’.
“They scared us but it made us strong.
“Separating children from their families is not good. No matter what the reason, you still feel the impact of that in our communities today.
“This exhibition tells a bit of that story.
“The Ration Shed has done a great job to restore this old, historic building. This is now a place for the whole world to come and see what happened to us here on the mission during those years.”
Aunty Sandra said an exhibition can only tell a small bit of a big story.
“We set out to capture the lived experiences of you who lived in these buildings – all that you went through as children living in those exceptional circumstances,” she said.
“We hope we have achieved that …
“We here all know that this is an important story, not only for the people who lived through this and for the people of Cherbourg, it is an important story for the whole of Australia.
“We at The Ration Shed hope that this site will stand as a permanent memorial to the time of the Stolen Generations in our country.
“There are many lessons in this … of survival and resilience and of healing.
“I hope this exhibition becomes a significant place of learning for our children and for our future generations.”
David Wragge spoke on behalf of the former Dormitory boys and girls.
“We are very, very proud of the work we are doing with The Ration Shed. It’s about honouring the men and women from the Dormitory and their families,” he said.
He said the Dormitory system in Queensland lasted for 80-odd years so it was very important to acknowledge the men and women who who were no longer here.
Former Dormitory Boys and Girls later enjoyed a private lunch and a number of videos were shown.