Snapshots of history

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on June 14, 2019

THE history of Indigenous families in the Great Southern will be pictorially displayed at Vancouver Arts Centre from tomorrow in celebration of NAIDOC Week.

Averil Dean and her son, Lindsay gave the Weekender a sneak peek at the exhibition prior to the opening on June 14 and were excited to set everything up.

Photos in the Voice Treaty Truth exhibition include images from Ms Dean’s childhood alongside photos taken by Australian anthropologist Norman Tindale, who in 1939 documented various Indigenous families in the region, their cultural habits and tribal groupings.

Dr Tindale’s image collection includes photos of Ms Dean’s grandparents, Lily Toorlijan Williams and Eddie Womber Williams.

“I think this exhibition has been a long time coming,” Ms Dean said.

“It tells the real story from our point of view, and how we saw what was happening.”

“It’s interesting; people want to know the truth now about this somewhat dark history,” Mr Dean added.

There are nearly 30 images in the exhibition that capture snapshots of Indigenous history, including Indigenous experiences in missions and the effects of the Stolen Generation.

“This is our history, of all the Aboriginal families in this area,” Mr Dean said.

“It tells the real story.”

Local history coordinator for the City of Albany Sue LeFroy added that the pictorial records were “powerful representations of the past”.

“They give families a voice,” she said.

“Seeing the Tindale images alongside and incorporated with family photographs of past generations tackles dark history head on; it is an exhibition of parallel histories, encapsulating the resilience of a family, a people and a culture – a story of survival which is meaningful to us all.”

Voice Treaty Truth will be on display at Vancouver Arts Centre from June 14 to July 18.

This year, NAIDOC Week will be celebrated from July 7 to 14.