I’ve been reading some tributes to Faith Bandler, who passed away last week. In this eulogy, “Faith is most widely remembered for her role in bringing about the 1967 Referendum which resulted in Aboriginal people being included in the census”. The author claims that Faith Bandler “was the daughter of a slave “black-birded” from the tiny South Sea Island of Ambryn and brought to Queensland to work in the sugar cane-fields.”
To speak of Russell, Merivale and the Cordelia in one sentence is to invoke a commentary about the abolition of slavery.
Since 1839, Herman Merivale had sought to elaborate on the possibility of labour in the British colonies without slaves or convicts.
A missionary, called John Patteson identified the Warship Cordelia in the vicinity of an Island called Ambrym in 1861. (Jane Resture has written an article specifically about Bishop Patteson and the Blackbirders.)
Meanwhile, Lord John Russell, Foreign Secretary of Great Britain, was trying to facilitate negotiations between Spain, Britain, France, the USA, Portugal and Brazil “to put an end to ‘an increasing traffic [in slaves] and finally to assure its complete abolition”. (Hugh Thomas, ‘The Slave Trade’ pp 769-778)
The above eulogy ends with Aunty Faith’s words. Here are some of them.
“you know I’m a street woman, I believe we should make good use of our streets. They are not just there for motorcars, they’re there for us to get out and express our feelings of how we feel, particularly about war, about peace, the manufacturing of arms, the banning of the manufacturing of arms and so on.”
Thank-you. This little corridor from Musgrave Park to the Brisbane Convention Centre reminds me of you.