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Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following story contains images of a deceased person, shared with permission.

The Tamworth community will gather to add their personal touch to a commemorative portrait in honour of the late Aunty Yvonne Kent. A mother, a friend, a leader, and a pioneer of our community.

“Aunty Yvonne passed during covid, right at the beginning, and she didn’t have the sendoff that would have happened otherwise, and our board said they really wanted to do something to honour her,” said Deb Maes, chair of Regional Unlimited.

Regional Unlimited commissioned a portrait to capture and celebrate Aunty Yvonne’s legacy, before deciding this should be shared with everyone.

 “We said stop in the middle of it,” said Deb.

“So many in the community might like to be involved in contributing to the piece.”

“Let’s leave it like this and let’s invite everybody in the community, artist or non-artist, to contribute to the artwork.”

The special event will be held on Wednesday 28th June at 11am and 6pm, at the Darling Street Community Centre in Tamworth. Anyone wishing to attend and take part must register at the Tamworth Pioneers Portrait webpage.

“This is the first event of its kind for our region, to honour and celebrate the life of the late Aunty Yvonne Kent, a beloved and respected Kamilaroi Elder,” said Deb.

The event will feature local legends, inspiring guest speakers, live music, and dance performances, as the audience share their stories of Aunty Yvonne on how she impacted their life or something they have learnt from her.

“Everyone can come and add a brushstroke or add a tac tile piece to the artwork, and we are having some TED style talks on what community leadership is, how do you create inclusion and cohesion in a community and what did we learn from Auntie Yvonne’s example of leadership.”

There will be a special showcase with memories from loved ones and never before seen vision of Auntie Yvonne released to the public, kindly donated by Arts North West.

“We’ve been asking family and friends for snippets her here and there, and this was found in their archives and they are happy to share that into the project.”

The entire project is of credit to the community who have coordinated the proceedings and dedications. 

“It has been run by the community, for the community and is inviting all do the community.”

The true meaning of what Aunty Yvonne stood for – inclusion for all.

“What is unique is how Auntie Yvonne impacted the whole community with her model of leadership.” said Deb.

“We are one and she has always said black, white and brindle – it’s not for the Indigenous children, it is for our children, Tamworth children.”

Aunty Yvonne dedicated her life to fostering connections within our community and guiding others to do the same. 

“She just turned up for humanity and advocated for people,” said Deb.

“She brought herself, as a Kamilaroi woman, into the context in which she fully considered the issues that were there.”

Since the seed to involve the community has been planted, the idea has grown to make Aunty Yvonne’s Portrait the first of many, and to make this an inaugural event to a hall dedicated to pioneers of our community.

“Council has said you make it, we will build it.” Said Deb.

And what better start to the Tamworth Pioneers Portrait project, than a tribute to a remarkable leader.

“This is a celebration of a leader in our community and how Aunty Yvonne impacted across the community, all walks of time, all cultures and all backgrounds.”

Register for this free event by visiting tpp.ru.org.au.

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