'Shirley Smith, better known as MumShirl, tells the story of her life with vigor and clarity. She was born on Erambie Mission in Cowra and has lived and worked in Sydney for most of her life. It is rare for a book to state so matter-of-factly so many incidents of which white Australians should be ashamed. MumShirl combines great insight into humane nature with sympathy for human frailty and a sense of humour. Her life as an Aboriginal, activist and social worker has been full of contrasts: 'we couldn't get served in lots of crummy places in Sydney... but we could have lunch with the Queen.' MumShirl is the story of the effects of colonisation in Australia, and she has helped to make Australian history through her work.' (Source: backcover)
My Grandfather used to tell me, 'Colleen, first you've got to love yourself, and then you can spread it around'. I've tried to live by that all my life. I've had a lot of problems, many of which cannot be put into this book, but I've also had a lot of love heaped on me.
My Grandfather, who was a simple man, also used to tell me that man threw down wheat seeds. Then God sent just enough rain and sun and wind for it to grow. God gave man the ability to harvest it and when it got crushed up, the Aboriginal people could make bread or damper.
He said that, because of this, just the simple act of eating or sharing our bread meant that we were taking part in a miracle.
Every day is part of a miracle and I have found that to be the truth, all my life.
I would therefore like to dedicate this book to God, and to one of His miracles, who was my Grandfather (hear that, Budjarn, this one is for you), and to all the other miracles who have walked the earth, whether they live in the deserts, the reserves or missions, in the houses, in the streets, or in the prisons...