Pastor Ray Minniecon identifies with the Kabi Kabi and Goreng Goreng nations and with the people of Ambryn Island in Vanuatu, from whence his grandfather was taken to Australia as forced labour. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Served Their Country’ project. Pastor Ray is a driving force in the movement to recognise Indigenous contribution to the Australian armed forces. In the excerpt below he discusses the the locations, routes and memorial services of the ‘Coloured Digger’ March on ANZAC Day.
We wanted a culturally appropriate ceremony where local people could begin the process of recognising, honouring and respecting their respective family members who fought in every world conflict. That was the first thing. And so we started in a little church service in Crossroads [Christian Fellowship] in George Street [Redfern] there, back in 2006, and then from 2007 we took that up into St Saviour’s Church in Young Street [Redfern] and we started the bigger service there. And we also had a service in Redfern Park for a year or two, and then we decided that we would turn the whole thing around and march from the cenotaph in Redfern Park down to the Block and so that to us was a better way of marching. We start at the cenotaph there and lay our wreaths and then we would then, after the wreath laying ceremony, march down to the Block [centre of Indigenous life in Redfern] or Redfern Community Centre.