Cecil Bowden, 73, is a Wiradjuri man from Cowra. Here he describes how the Block in Redfern became a meeting place for members of the Stolen Generations for the interactive documentary The Block: Stories from a Meeting Place.
His mother passed away when he was a baby. While his father was away fighting in WWII, he and his siblings were taken from their relatives and placed in Aboriginal homes.
When his father returned, he attempted to get his children back, but was not permitted to do so by the Aboriginal Protection Board.
Cecil was placed in Bomaderry Children’s Home and later moved to Kinchela Boys’ Home when he was 10, which he says was “worse than any jail”.
He was released when he was 18 years old, after which he made his way to Sydney where he started an apprenticeship in plumbing.
In the 1970s, he moved into a house on Eveleigh Street in the Block. Six months later, he shot and killed his daughter’s boyfriend while trying to prevent him from attacking her in his house on the Block. He was convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison. He served a seven-year sentence at Long Bay prison, at which he was made head plumber.
After his release Cecil worked as a builder and plumber.
In 2005, he worked as a Liaison Officer for Indigenous youth at the Bidura Children’s Court.
Cecil has spent the greater part of his life in institutions, including 17 years in children’s homes and 35 years in prison.
He currently lives in Redfern and has three children.