The families fighting for justice for indigenous deaths in custody

Policeman & Truncheonsource: Marie Claire
published: 21 August 2020

After Yorta Yorta woman Aunty Tanya Day died in December 2017, her children began looking for traces of her memory in her bedroom. They already had much of it close to their hearts.

Their mother, 55, was a proud community woman. She had helped run the co-op in her home town of Echuca and had assisted at the childcare centre. She was an excellent cook and used her skills to make big batches of food for elders and the community, as well as bake cupcakes with her grandchildren.

She was also political and had travelled interstate to attend rallies against black deaths in custody, standing in solidarity with families of victims. Her advocacy had taken shape early in her life, after her uncle Harrison Day died in custody when she was a teenager. His death was one of 99 investigated by the landmark Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC, 1987–1991).

But along with the memories of their mother, in that bedroom they found her hopes for the future. On a piece of paper, Aunty Day had written down her goals and dreams. “Some of her goals were to get her [driver’s] licence and to get her own place,” her daughter Apryl, 28, tells marie claire.

Aunty Day had been planning a move to Melbourne to get her qualifications in cooking, hoped to work at social enterprise restaurant Charcoal Lane, and to be closer to her daughter Kimberly, 23, who was pregnant.

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