A big mob of family friends and community gathered at the NCIE in Redfern to celebrate and honour Uncle Cecil Bowden on his 77th birthday.
Front and centre with Uncle Cecil at the NCIE were a group of Kinchela boys, fellow survivors of the brutal home just outside of Kempsey in NSW.

Photo: Kinchela Boys at the birthday celebration: Lester Maher, Colin Davis, Uncle Cecil, Paul Whitton, Greg Thompson, Willie Leslie, Michael Welsh, Richard Campbell.

Born in Wiradjuri country, Uncle Cecil Bowden was taken away from his family in Cowra – along with his nine siblings – when he was 16 months old. His mother had died and his father was away fighting in the Second World War.  He eventually ended up in the Kinchela Boys Home where, along with the rest of the boys, his identity was stripped from him and he became a number; number 29.

Like all the boys, he was subject to cultural deprivation violence and humiliation but they stood strong. Uncle Cecil was reunited with many members of his family and was able to spend some time droving with his father but he has called Redfern home for much of the rest of his life


Former NSW Governor Marie Bashir attended the lunch and spoke of the inspiration she took from the strength and determination of Uncle Cecil and the Kinchela boys. She was honoured to attend and to cut his red and green Rabbitohs birthday cake with him.

Photo: Uncle cutting the cake with Marie Bashir.

NCIE CEO, Kirstie Parker said the organisation was also honoured to host the celebration. “It was beautiful to see him surrounded by so many of his friends and family.

“Uncle Cecil is a true icon, fighter and survivor. His story embodies the spirit of our people and it’s important for the younger ones in our community to know and remember it,” she said.

Photo: Uncle Ceclil & NCIE CEO Kirstie Parker.

Uncle Cecil’s birthday celebration was held the day after the NSW Government announced its compensation package for the Stolen Generations which saw a lot of TV crews attend Uncle’s lunch to gather stories and reaction from the guests.

The Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation said they were pleased with the announcement of the compensation package but stressed that, due to the age and health of their members the response couldn’t come soon enough.

For more information see the Kinchela Boys Home website.