FOR many years Lindsay Calyun stayed quiet about what happened to him as a member of the Stolen Generation, taken from his family in East Perth in 1965 and sent to the Roelands Mission 170km away.
He says for a lot of his life the subject just wasn’t something to talk about, and he had to stay strong for his family despite the trauma he’d gone through.
“They knew I was put away. They knew my missus was too. They understand, but they keep quiet about it. I don’t talk about it much.”
Now he wants to “keep those memories alive,” and has recorded his story as part of an animated short film Moorditj Footprints.
Ivy Penny, who produced the film along with director Brenton Rossow, has been working with Mr Calyun to record stories of Noongar people who grew up in East Perth around the 1960s.
“For years Lindsay’s been saying he’s wanted to tell the stories of his friends, his family, before people passed on,” Ms Penny says.
“That’s how Moorditj Footprints, the oral history project, got started.
“In the middle of all that we said, ‘hang on, we’ve got to record Lindsay’s story as well… Lindsay’s story is so rich and beautiful’.”
Going with an animated format gave them some creative room, and Mr Rossow had the idea to insert the figure of the adult Lindsay in the scenes with his younger self as both sit in the Mount Lawley Receiving Home cell, and as they walk into the dark and frightening boarding room at the mission.
It serves as a reminder, Mr Penny says, that the grown man recalling the story and the frightened young boy are the same person.
Mr Calyun had previously written an award-winning short memoire for Vincent council’s local history awards, but he’s found it especially touching to see his story on screen with his two selves in the frame.
While the experience of being taken away is a tough story to recount, there’s a lot of joy in Mr Calyun’s memories of East Perth, and a sense of triumph when he and some other boys escape from the mission and find their way back home.
“That’s something that came through in all the stories,” Ms Penny says. “A lot of fun, a lot of laughter, good times in East Perth.”
Moorditj means great, solid, or strong, and Mr Calyun says growing up there were Moorditj footprints all over East Perth.
Going back there today and surveying his old surrounds, Mr Calyun says “the old school’s still there, the big park’s still there where people gather together.
“The place changed a bit… the memories are still there.”
Moorditj Footprints was one of three short films made as part of the joint City of Vincent/Revelation Perth International Film Festival project. They premiere July 17 at 7pm at Luna Leederville at the Get Your Shorts On screening alongside a curation of other films. Book via revelationfilmfest.org
by DAVID BELL