Thursday, 3 December 2020
Williams, Aunty Eileen
I want to pay tribute to one of our significant elders in the Logan community, Aunty Eileen Williams, who, sadly, passed away on 27 September 2020. Aunty Eileen was a Yugambeh elder, a daughter, a sister, a mother, a grandmother, a teacher and a storyteller. We are lucky to have a record of Aunty Eileen's life shared through our Aunties and Uncles Digital Stories Project, supported by funding from this government's Your Communities Heritage Program and run by the Logan City Council. Born a descendant of Bilin Bilin, known as the King of Logan, Aunty Eileen's father was from Beaudesert and her mother grew up in Cherbourg. Aunty Eileen grew up at Mount Gravatt and Holland Park in Brisbane with her two sisters, Robyn and Loris, and her three brothers.
Family was important to Aunty Eileen. Her sister Aunty Robyn Williams said they used to call themselves the 'black Brady Bunch'. Education was also a huge part of Aunty Eileen's life. Aunty Robyn said of his sister, 'The most important thing was that Mum and Dad wanted us to be educated, and that's the passion Eileen and I have.' At 38, Aunty Eileen went to university as a mature-age student and became a teacher. She remained involved in education for her whole life and used her skill of speaking the Yugambeh language to teach the language at local schools.
Aunty Eileen was a founding member of the Beenleigh Housing and Development Company when it was formed in 1994. Following this, she was a board member until her work commitments as a teacher became too much and she took a step back. Aunty Eileen was always a strong advocate for her mob to find suitable housing. She was also involved with the language program Jinndi Mibunn. Just before she passed away, she was made a life member of the Beenleigh Housing and Development Company. Jinndi mibunn, or 'nest of the eagle', is the concept that underpins the work of the Beenleigh Housing and Development Company. The eagle's nest is a shelter for the vulnerable offspring. It is part of essential nourishment and protection. The Beenleigh Housing and Development Company's vision is related to mibunn, the eagle, that still graces the twin rivers of Logan. They say, 'We too survive with pride and success in a system that is both natural and Western.'
Aunty Eileen played a vital role in the cultural education and nourishment of her community by playing an integral role in preserving traditional knowledge. She gifted something deeply important to the lives she touched: she gave them a connection to their history and their country; she lived with pride, giving others a sense of where they came from and who they are. I extend my deepest condolences to Aunty Eileen's family and all those who were fortunate to have known her during her wonderful life.