Because of Aunty Winnie Dawson, we can!

Sono Leone honours her grandmother Aunty Winnie Dawson who faithfully loved her family through all circumstances and became a determined advocate for justice in her time.

Warning: Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples are warned the following article contains the image of a deceased person.

Aunty Winnie Dawson (nee Tanna)

3rd March, 1916 — 23rd October, 1966


sono-leone.jpg Sono Leone, a proud descendant of the Garawa and Butchulla Nations, honours her grandmother Aunty Winnie Dawson who faithfully loved her family through all circumstances and became a determined advocate for justice in her time.

I want to honour my grandmother Winnifred Evelyn Dawson nee Tanna.

Taken from Hervey Bay (Butchulla Country) and her family when she was only 11 years, Nanna was taken to Cherbourg where she spent the rest of her life under Queensland's 1897 Aboriginies Protection Act. Even though she was not allowed to live off the mission, she always travelled home as much as she could to be with family. She loved her two sons and seven daughters very much. She was loving and caring and always looked after others. And Nanna was the best cook.

My Nanna was a strong Christian woman who loved the Lord and instilled that love and reverence for God into her children – and my mum then instilled that into me. In her early years she was the first Aboriginal person to work in the office at Cherbourg as a typist and was a very smart intelligent woman. This photo hangs in the Ration Shed in Cherbourg to honour Nanna for that.

In her latter years she worked many different places as a domestic and was never paid properly (Stolen Wages). Nanna Winnie always saw the best in the hardest of times and always made the most with what she had. Nanna was very much loved and well respected by her community and even the people she worked for.

Nanna Winnie had that fiery South Sea Islander passion. She was not afraid to challenge people and was one to speak her mind. Nanna Winnie was also an active member of OPAL (One People of Australia League).

Love you Nanna and I will always honour your memory by instilling in my children what you instilled in mum. I will always pass down to my ghundus the beautiful memories mum has of you and share your sheer guts and determination, love and kindness you had throughout your life. Gone but never forgotten.

Because Of Her We Can.

– written by Sono Leone. 

This post is the fourth in our NAIDOC Week series "Because of her, we can!" celebrating Aboriginal Christian women who have shaped our lives, our churches and our nation. This story was shared by Sono Leone, an Aboriginal Christian leader with The Grass Gathering. NAIDOC Week Artwork by Cheryl Moggs.



'Matthew 11:28'
Sharyn Malone
Nations: Koa and Wakka Wakka (QLD)

Throughout this week we are sharing artworks from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists who are part of The Grasstree Gathering network. These artworks are being shared with permission of the artists, and are not to be copied or reproduced. They are currently on display at The Grasstree Gathering Art Exhibition at Newtown Mission in Sydney, available for public viewing this coming weekend. If you would like to purchase an artwork from the artist please email grasstree.gathering@gmail.com.

"Because of her, we can" - NAIDOC Week 2018