Aunty Ruth Hegarty
The Society held its second George Marchant Lecture on Saturday 5-11-2011 in the Long Tan Room at Kedron-Wavell Social Club.
The lecturer was Aunty Ruth Hegarty, a Cherbourg Dormitory girl who became a Queensland Great and a highly respected Aboriginal Elder of the Turrbul People.
She was sent to Cherbourg when she was six and a half months old because her white father left her mother and the state decided that Ruth had to be taken into 'care'. It was a time when too many white men fathered 'half-cast' children and then left them. For the next 14 years Ruth was brought up in the tightly regimented atmosphere of Cherbourg
and the only way out for most of the girls was marriage. Ruth was sent to work at Jandowae when she was 14.
She was a child of two cultures, brought up in the white one and having to learn of the black one in her adult life.
Ruth, an only child, married and raised eight children, all of whom are in responsible positions in today's society and have given her a host of grandchildren. Her husband, Joe, died 25 years ago of cancer. She finally found her father's family and was united with a lot more relatives; they were delighted to have her as part of the extended family. She started as an 'only child' and now is waiting for her 100th descendant to be born.
Ruth is a winner who educated herself; she has
spent years campaigning on behalf of her people for social justice and a fair go. She has fought racism, discrimination, rejection and she has come up smiling with her hand held out in friendship to all other people. The title Aunty is one of the proudest titles that an Australian Aboriginal woman can have and she wears it lightly; she is a peaceful woman of great dignity and completely dedicated to helping and understanding all people so 'that all may be one mob'.
Indicative of her energy is the fact that, although in her eighties, she has just completed a speaking tour of Tasmania. In addition she has written three books on the relationship between the black and the white, the latest being "Is that you Ruthie" which is her autobiography.