Last week Gunnedah was host to author, speaker and film director Brenda Matthews for two events to share her story with the community.

A screening of her documentary at St Xavier’s Primary School along with an intimate Q and A session on Monday had about 60 people attend before she took to Gunida Gunyah Aboriginal Corporation’s floor for a keynote presentation on Tuesday.

Mrs Matthews and her siblings were taken from their family when she was just two years old and she was adopted by a white family.

Six years later, child welfare brought her back to her original family but after being taken from two households, there were struggles to connect with her identity.

She shared her story about reconnecting with the past to find her white family 40 years later with a journey full of healing and reflection.

“Everyone was very touched, there was not a dry eye in the hall,” Winanga-Li Aboriginal Childcare Centre, Out of Home Care’s Madi Ellis said. “It was a very moving experience.

“We are really grateful for Mark [Mrs Matthew’s husband] and Brenda for making the trip to Gunnedah to be able to share it to the community,” Ms Ellis said.

Mrs Matthews was happy with the turnout on the Monday evening.

“I have come to terms with whoever is supposed to be there [is there at the sessions] and it was just an amazing turnout. The community did not disappoint.”

Mrs Matthews and her husband have been travelling to share her story with others.

“It is amazing you can find the connection to the places you travel around … you also find your mob and that is amazing,” Mrs Matthews said.

“I never even knew I had a story.

“To be able to know you have a story and that it has a healing journey and to be able to reflect and share that with others and go from place to place to do that. That is what our mob did, they shared stories, passing down through the generations.”

Her story was able to be shared through book and film adaptation but that does not discount the power of speaking directly with people.

“[It is] amazing, you can always keep that cultural practice going,” she said.

She referred to how people find connection to her journey.

“That is what is so good about the story, it is not just about me and I would not want it to be about me.

“In our culture, it is all about the collective.

“Having people find their entry point into the story through their own lived experience is truly amazing.

“To invite those people into that circle to realise they have a story too.

“To be able to find that healing through your story, it is individual feeling for reflective healing.

“We all have a story that connects us to country, so being able to understand your story and your entry point into the circle.

“And not to condemn each other but to walk in that forgiveness and love, that deeper love and deeper forgiveness and then we are able to become brother and sister.”

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