Indigenous elder Uncle Wes receives Key to City on 100th birthday

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Blacktown City Council has honoured remarkable Indigenous senior elder Wesley Marne with a Key to the City on his 100th birthday.

Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM presented the prestigious honour to Uncle Wes at a surprise birthday party with his family and friends in Plumpton on Anzac Day.

“Uncle Wes, a Bigambul man, has lived in Mount Druitt for more than 45 years, and, at 100 years of age, he is committed to sharing traditional knowledge of Indigenous culture,” Mayor Bleasdale said.

“He is known throughout the community for the Aboriginal culture and education that he brings to schools, events and organisations through his storytelling.

“In 2011, Uncle Wes was a proud recipient of the first NSW Department of Education Nanga Mai Love of Learning award.

“He has dedicated his life to helping children and adults who have been incarcerated to get their lives back on track by helping them to regain confidence to advocate for themselves.

“In Bidwill, in the grounds of Graceades Cottage, Uncle Wes established a community storytelling garden, ‘Kwinnies Garden’, where he can tell his stories to the community as they sit, listen and connect.

“Uncle Wes is a founding member of the Mount Druitt and Districts Reconciliation Group, which, for more than 20 years, has organised an annual Reconciliation Walk and Concert in Mount Druitt.

“His one-man storytelling show, Fire Bucket, premiered at the 2016 Sydney Festival and played to sell-out audiences. It later toured to Melbourne and throughout regional NSW.

“The creative voice of Uncle Wes knows few bounds – he has also rapped on songs with the Solid Ground Artist in Residence program.

“Next month, Uncle Wes will launch his book of poems, titled ‘Through Old Eyes’, and a book of stories, ‘Bigambul Dreamtime’, will be released later this year.

“He continues to work every day in his community, Mount Druitt, throughout Blacktown City and beyond, conducting smoking ceremonies and Welcome to Country ceremonies.

“Uncle Wes is deeply loved and valued. Like his creative spirit, this love knows no bounds.

“Blacktown City is richer for the time he has spent with us. It is truly an honour to present him with the Key to the City.

“Congratulations, and Happy Birthday, Uncle Wes.”

Picture: Indigenous elder Uncle Wes (centre) receives the Key to the City from Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM (right) and Chifley MP Ed Husic (left) on his milestone 100th birthday.

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