Rachel Warcon is a mix of third and fourth generation Australian South Sea Islander and says she finds it astonishing most Australians are unaware of “the basics” of this country’s blackbirding history.
In the blackbirding era between the 1860s and the early 1900s, her great-grandfather Charles Malamoo and great-great-grandfather William Warcon were taken from their homes in Vanuatu.
The 23-year-old grew up in Rockhampton but spent much of her time in Joskeleigh, a small community on the Capricorn Coast.
It was where her ancestors were forced to build new lives after working as sugar slaves.
From a young age, Ms Warcon was labelled by her skin colour.
“I have an older brother who also had to go through exactly what I have been through, and all of my cousins as well,” she said.
At school, classmates often questioned her identity.
Ms Warcon found the answers through her grandmother, Daphne Florence Warcon nee Malamoo.
The 87-year-old, known affectionately as Mama to Rachel and her family, died in February 2020.
“She taught us who we are and that we are strong Australian South Sea Islander people — being proud of who you are and not being ashamed of where you come from,” Ms Warcon said. “She connected us back to our culture, she played a very big role in it, and hopefully I can always do her proud and keep that running through our family.” READ MORE