On a lone table in the back corner of a poorly lit restaurant, I sit down with the man I've come to idolise from his soft political influence. We are joined by his partner, a colleague and an old Aunty who speaks so gently, yet so authoritatively.
I reach over the table to shake his hand and gaze into his eyes to unearth his tired soul. He's panicked, craving change for our people and yet uncertain as to what the future will truly hold. I know him as a force of change, of power and of influence, yet his weary face tells me that he's tired and drained. At the dinner table, he's hesitant and quiet, sharing the odd comment I latch on to for inspiration...
And for a moment, his soul enters mine and I feel the struggles he has gone through and my hushed, radical voice whispers for me to join his journey and walk down the path of what has come before. The fire is stoked, begging for Indigenous change.
After the gradual small talk that fills and lingers in the space around us, our Aunty is encouraged to speak of her life. A gentle lady, much like a Grandmother, forces tears into the eyes and in the heart of the people around her as she tells that she was taken from her parents at the age of three. But what is worse is that she was unable to return for 15 years. Of all the tragedy and influence in her life, she musters up the courage to tell a story of the man sitting across from me.
Slowly she describes an event designed for the Stolen Generations, bringing together the wounds of our people to discuss how they have suffered and the ongoing pain caused to their families and all Indigenous families across Australia. Amid the tears, she tells of how the Indigenous icon gave her a hug and whispered words that have driven her to this day...
"You will feel pain for a while, then you'll get stronger".
Like a credence for the black movement in society, we know the joint pain we have shared and that we still feel today. But now, it is our opportunity to get stronger. It's our opportunity to create the change we so desperately need, showing society our strengths and gentle hearts, kept within our culture.
Beneath the years of struggle and pain is new hope, hope that we will create something better for the future of our families.
Now is our time. Not to rise up and fight- those days are now restricted by the wins we have already made. It is the time to show who we really are- proud champions of hope and spirit, wisdom and knowledge. We are the oldest living culture on Earth with dreaming and songlines to share for the new world.
Like our stories being passed down in the old ways, I know his tired, selfless stare is our transfer of hope for the future. A hope that now lies with me, and all Indigenous youth, to create the change we so desperately need.