“This is really impossible for me,” declared Dr Stan Grant, AM as he accepted the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award at Saturday’s NAIDOC Ball in Melbourne.
“I’m just a little old blackfella from the bush.”
The venerable Wiradjuri elder, better known in the Riverina as Uncle Stan, received the award in recognition of his decades of work revitalising the Wiradjuri language.
On stage with him were his wife Betty, daughter Joanne and granddaughter Lowanna who have been looking after Uncle Stan as he battles poor health.
“I was so proud to be standing up there with him,” Lowanna says.
“Having been his carer for the past year and a half and now being able to take him up there as he accepted the award, it was just a really special moment for me and my auntie and my nan just to all be there together.”
His son, broadcaster Stan Grant Jr, could not attend in person due to illness but watched with pride from Sydney.
“When I watched dad get that award and saw him there with mum beside him, the world just felt right. That’s his life. That’s been his struggle. To keep us alive. To make sure we are heard, that our language is spoken,” he says.
“Dad’s always given us a place to belong, to know we are Wiradjuri people and to stand strong in the world. He has done this for our old people, for those who have gone and for all those still to come.
“But this has never been about him. He does this out of love for us all.”
The grandson of a man jailed for speaking the Wiradjuri language in public, Uncle Stan has dedicated much of his life to restoring his native tongue by creating a dictionary, a CSU language course and now an app.
Lowanna has been studying for the Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage at CSU for the past 18 months, and says it’s a privilege to continue her pop’s legacy.
“Growing up and knowing that my pop was doing this amazing work and revitalising our language, and then getting honoured with the Order of Australia Medal for something that his grandfather was jailed for, was really special,” she says.
“But he just doesn’t do it for the recognition. He does it for the legacy that he will leave behind.
“It’s like a gift that he’s given to myself and our family and all the Wiradjuri people doing the course.”
Lowanna is also continuing this legacy through her work at National Indigenous Television (NITV) where she manages a First Nations language project.
“For me, doing the course and then being able to take that back to work and try and get more language content on the channel, I think that’s the role that I play and I hope that I can do him proud,” she says.
For Stan Grant Jr, reflecting on his father’s legacy, it’s not the awards and accolades that count but the authenticity of who he is.
“He said he didn’t expect the award; he said he is just an old blackfella from the bush,” Stan says.
“Yep, he is and there is nothing better to be.
“He’s a warrior and he’s given us the gift of our language to talk back to a world that didn’t want to hear us.”
Original Article published by Chris Roe on Region Riverina.