• Darren Lenoy (far right) celebrates the native title win with his grandmother and family. (Supplied)
A north Queensland community has breathed a 'big sigh of relief' after being recognised as the traditional owners of their lands.
By
Jodan Perry

Source:
NITV News
24 Mar 2016 - 6:00 PM  UPDATED 24 Mar 2016 - 6:01 PM

As the Federal Court handed down its decision on Wednesday, Birriah man Darren Lenoy's thoughts went straight to his grandmother. 

Forcibly removed from her country when she was younger, Grace Lenoy was one of the original claimants who started the fight for determination in 1998. 

This week, her grandson Darren was there to finish it. 

The Federal Court recognised the Birriah People as the traditional owners of 9,845 square kilometres of land and waters between Mackay and Townsville in Queensland's north. 

'We got some closure in a lot of things. We got our identity back.'

The decision will give traditional owners more control over the use of their land. 

"It was quite emotional," Darren told NITV News.

"We got some closure in a lot of things. We got our identity back.

"This fight for the determination has been going since 1998. Overall our people have been fighting since 1788, since Australia became Australia.

"This is for all Aboriginal people."

While Darren's grandmother was too ill to attend the court hearing, he visited her soon after. 

"She had a tear in her eye - we all did," Darren says. "Thanks to her for helping start [the native title claim].

"I'm just glad I was a part of it... to help finish it."

Now in her mid 80s, Ms Lenoy was born on Strathmore Station as one of six children before she was forcibly removed from her country and taken to Palm Island, later returning to the Burdekin region. 

"Many other Aboriginal people talk about the stolen generation, taken from country, put on missions [leading to] loss of culture, loss of language," Darren says.

"Hopefully handing back our country we can return to our roots and get that back.”

Birriah elder Algon Walsh Junior told NITV News the native title decision was a "big sigh of relief" for the community.

He hopes the decision will pave the way for a brighter future for the next generation. 

"Hopefully a lot will change for our younger ones moving forward, because we have a fair slice of country that we have to manage and look after," he says.