Nathan Martin for Yarrie Yarns
For a long time, Indigenous people couldn’t own businesses in this country. My great-grandfather was one of a handful of families that started the first Aboriginal-run newspaper, Abo Call, in 1938.
The government stole every single child whose family was involved in that newspaper, my grandmother being one of them. They used that as an example: if you want to stand up against us, we’ll steal your children – as first generation removed from the Stolen Generation, I feel a deep desire to utilise Yalagan as vehicle to drive change creating hope and building sustainable futures, not just for my family, but for my community and my country.
My paternal great-grandmother would pull out a double-barrel shotgun in the 1950s when people tried to steal her kids. My dad’s mother fought the NSW education department because they wouldn’t let her children go to school at the same time her eldest son was overseas fighting to defend the country. That’s the sort of family I come from: fighters.
I’ve lived a very interesting life. My father commit suicide when I was 24. I’ve had four mates commit suicide as a kid growing up. I spent four years in jail. Now I look back at all of it and I’ve put it all in a blender and I’ve come up with the idea of what I want to do and who I want to be, and I make it happen every single day that I wake up.
I’m proud to be an Aboriginal man – I always have been and I always will be. I see it as a leg up, not a leg down. I’ve never seen it as a deficit towards me. I’m proud every day of my culture and who I am and where I’ve come from. I don’t regret one thing. Everything I’ve ever done has led me to where I am now.