I woke up yesterday to the tragic news that Uncle Tiga Bayles had passed away.
Not believing my Facebook news feed I contacted my friend and colleague Amy McQuire immediately. She sadly confirmed the news that the Uncle we looked up to had indeed passed away with family and friends by his side in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Amy hosted the 'Lets Talk' radio program with Uncle Tiga at 98.9FM in Brisbane. It's a hard-hitting Indigenous current affairs show, and no doubt Tiga and Amy wouldn't have it any other way. It was an honour to be asked to go on the show from 2014 until recently, and talk about the real issues that mattered to our people.
I saw a tweet that Amy wrote that made me think about the impact Tiga has had on my own journalism. She said he had paved the way for so many of us, and this couldn't be truer. It was not only the work he did in the media industry to create pathways for Indigenous journalists and broadcasters, but it was also the advice he gave us.
Two years ago I sat with Uncle Tiga Bayles at the Amnesty International Media Awards in Sydney. I was nominated for breaking a news story in the Territory, it was the first time that I have been up for a journalism award.
At the time I had only been a journalist for a short time, and I thought I was killing it. That's when Uncle Tiga Bayles looked me in the eye and said: "Danny the mob don't care about awards bruz, they just care about the truth. You see young fulla, Black Journalism is just an extension of hunting and gathering. You have to spear the truth in the heart! Never come back empty handed."
It was this one sentence that changed me. It changed the way I looked at journalism, it changed the way I told my stories, and it changed the way I looked at award ceremonies.
Uncle Tiga had a way with words, you could see and feel the passion he had for his people with every word he said.
You see, what Uncle Tiga was telling me, was that while the mob are suffering across the country, nobody cares about how many awards you win, they just want the truth to be told everyday. They want me to be genuine and most of all they want me to fight for them.
One little sentence from the Warrior that is Uncle Tiga Bayles. Those words he shared with me are now my mantra, it made me the black journo I am today.
Thanks Tiga, I just hope one day we have an award named after you. That's something we would all want to celebrate.
Danny Teece-Johnson is a Journalist/Producer for NITV.