Black Swan: A Koorie Woman’s Life

Eileen Harrison, Carolyn Landon

Black Swan: A Koorie Woman's Life
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Black Swan: A Koorie Woman’s Life

Eileen Harrison, Carolyn Landon

‘It’s bad luck to catch a black swan.’ Eileen Harrison grew up at the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Mission Station in the 1950s as one of eleven children in a tight-knit and loving family. When the new assimilation policy comes in, they are wrenched from the Mission and sent off to Ararat in the hope that they will become part of that community. Unable to build a stable life in the face of isolation and discrimination, the family is torn apart. Eileen must become the protector and the peacemaker. As a child, Eileen set free a black swan caught in a hessian bag. Now the story of the magical black swan from her childhood provides an uncanny map for her life as she struggles to find her path. After many years she discovers her talent as a painter and builds a new life for herself. Powerfully told in Eileen’s words, her experiences speak eloquently of what has happened to Aboriginal people over the last half-century. ‘Both heart-wrenching and hopeful, Eileen Harrison’s story demonstrates that while policies of assimilation may have taken families from country and community, they could never take the memories that kept them connected.’ - Dr Anita Heiss, award-winning author and activist

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