|About the Book|
Born of an Aboriginal mother, and a white father, Ella was raised by her Aboriginal grandparents. Her grandmother, Kundaibark was a Christian and through her Ella grew up a Christian. In the year of her birth, Ellas grandfather moved his family,MoreBorn of an Aboriginal mother, and a white father, Ella was raised by her Aboriginal grandparents. Her grandmother, Kundaibark was a Christian and through her Ella grew up a Christian. In the year of her birth, Ellas grandfather moved his family, together with several other Aboriginal families from the crowded and depressed fringe camp at Taree to a new site further out of town. They constructed their own homes, and a UAM missionary was appointed to work there. A church and school were built, the beginnings of the Purfleet Mission. Ella attended the mission school, and then, in the 1920s, went to Sydney to work as a domestic.Ella returned to Purfleet in 1932 just in time to experience the heavy-handed takeover of Purfleet by the Aborigines Protection Board, armed with new powers to concentrate on reserves people of Aboriginal blood, with definite control over them ... They were not to be at liberty to leave without permission. (Aborigines Protection Board Report, 1932) It was with her initial confrontation with these officials that Ella began her long life of fighting for justice for her people, and of working positively for their future.After her grandmothers death, Ella married Joe Simon. She became one of the most prominent citizens of the Taree district. Ella Simons efforts often met with frustrating official opposition and pettiness, but she also succeeded on many occasions in cutting through the bureaucratic restrictions. She led the movement which succeeded in gaining a preschool at Purfleet, and set up a branch of the Country Womens Association. She opened a gift shop at Purfleet to sell Aboriginal artefacts and other locally produced items. In 1962 she became the first Aboriginal woman to be made a JP in NSW.Throughout the whole of her life, Ella Simon maintained a strong Christian faith. She was associated from childhood with the Aboriginal church at Purfleet, and continued her active commitment to it until her death. Her life was also marked by a strong sense of Aboriginality, of the distinctiveness and worth of her Aboriginal heritage. This, with her Christian faith, she attributed to the nurture she was given by her grandmother.Ella Simon could be described in the words she used to describe her grandmother: She had a deep sense of faith—a Christian in the real sense, as well as knowing what it is truly like to be Aboriginal ... She showed me that it just isnt enough being Aboriginal- you have to know all about being Aboriginal and go on from there, ... putting into practice the Christian teaching of forgiveness and love instead of meeting hatred with hatred. (Simon, 1987: 1-2).This philosophy enabled her to accept people for what they were, irrespective of racial or cultural background. This was how she always wanted to be accepted herself. The personal tragedy of Ella Simons life was that she died feeling that her mixed ancestry had always meant that she had never been accepted totally by either the Aboriginal or the white community. Although a huge crowd of Aboriginal and white people attended her funeral, her dying request was respected: the hearse bore her coffin to the crematorium, unaccompanied.