Crowds spilled out the door of the Inverell Hospital’s rehab room as locals flocked to celebrate both NAIDOC Week and the life and work of the late Leona Quinnell.
A stalwart in the town’s Aboriginal health scene, Leona worked for Community Health, and was a member of the Armajun medical board.
“It was about remembering her and the work that she’d done for 41 and a half years in regards to Aboriginal health,” Inverell/Tingha NAIDOC committee chair Lyn Lackay said. Lyn worked closely with Leona for several years.
“She was a fun-loving person. She enjoyed meeting people and being with people. She adored her family,” Lyn said.
“She was a person who always looked out for others, and made sure that they were ok. She would help as much as she could in any way.”
Attendees travelled from Moree, Tamworth and even Newcastle to take part.
Lyn said the event fitted well with the 2018 NAIDOC theme, ‘Because of her, we can’. She felt it was the right time to remember Leona and acknowledge her impact on the community. She said the overflowing crowd “said it all”.
Guest speakers talked about the vital role women play in the community, and Leona’s life and work. A slide show and a table full of awards showed her many achievements and accolades.
Josh Blair and Kelvin Brown cleansed the area with a smoking ceremony, and Inverell Hospital health service manager Kath Randall joined Armajun’s Beryl Hepi in raising the Australian and Aboriginal flags.
Artwork created by Indigenous clients was unveiled to decorate the rehab centre.
“This event I think really proved that people can come together to acknowledge one another. It was amazing,” Lyn said.
She said the committee was keen to see more community members come along to their events and work together to understand Aboriginal culture. The committee would like more non-Aboriginal members to join.
“To close the gap we need more participation, we need everybody to come together as one,” she said.
To learn more about the Inverell/Tingha NAIDOC Committee, contact Lyn Lackay at Community Health or James Sheather at Armajun.
Inverell’s NAIDOC March will begin at 11am from the library carpark on Friday, July 13.