Norah Wilson (1901-1971) aboriginal community leader
Norah Wilson was a leader within the aboriginal community. She visited Aborigines in hospital and children living in the United Aborigines’ Mission’s Colebrook Home, supplying a link between people in rural areas and their families in Adelaide. Norah was involved in community and in church life and worked for the Aboriginal Lutheran Fellowship.
Norah Wilson, Aboriginal community leader, was born on 12 August 1901 at Bookabie, South Australia, daughter of Jack Boxer, an Englishman, and an Aboriginal mother of Kukata descent.
Koonibba Mission, established near Ceduna by the Lutheran Church in 1901, provided a base for local Aboriginal families. While many of the adults worked on nearby farms their children, including Norah, lived at the mission in the children’s home. At school Norah learned to read and write, became proficient at needlework and crochet, and played the organ.
On 8 June 1921 at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Koonibba, she married Ernest Roy Wilson, a labourer, who was of Wirrangu and Irish descent.
The family lived with other Aboriginal people in rented accommodation at Goodwood, before buying a house in the city. Their home was a centre for Aborigines visiting from the west coast and other outback areas. Young men who had enlisted or worked in the defence forces were welcomed; Pastor C. V. Eckermann described ’12 to 20 men ”camping” there, men asleep on every square inch of floor, and in every room’.
The family attended Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Flinders Street. When a worship centre for Aboriginal people opened in Franklin Street, Norah became a leader of its community activities, played the organ, and worked for the Aboriginal Lutheran Fellowship.
After seven years in Adelaide the Wilsons moved to Largs Bay and Ernest worked on the Port Adelaide wharfs. Norah continued her involvement in community and church life. A much-respected matriarch, she provided open house for Aboriginal guests from rural areas, and also conducted meetings for women. To keep in touch with aspects of traditional life, she stayed from time to time with relations at Port Augusta and occasionally participated in ceremonies.
She visited Aborigines in hospital and children living in the United Aborigines’ Mission’s Colebrook Home, supplying a link between people in rural areas and their families in Adelaide. Government workers sought her guidance in cross-cultural matters and her assistance as an interpreter.
Influential Australian aboriginal Christians
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