Bundaberg elder Aunty Cheri has passed away.
Bundaberg elder Aunty Cheri has passed away.

Beloved indigenous elder Aunty Cheri mourned by community

THE community is in mourning following the death of localindigenous elder Cheri Yavu-Kama-Harathunian.

Aunty Cheri, as she was affectionately known, passed away last Friday at the age of 70.

She was a respected elder of the Taribelang, Kabbi Kabbi and Gooreng Gooreng people.

She was known prominently for her role at the IWC, where she was a director, chaplain, cultural consultant and theta healing practitioner.

On her Linkedin profile online, Aunty Cheri described the inspiration behind her work in the community.

"I would say that part of my purpose in life is to create opportunities whereby others can gain insight into seeing their potentialities and finding their path to their purpose," she wrote.

"My objective is to live my purpose and share the manner in which I do this from a 'servant' heart.

"It's about having an attitude of gratitude for having life in this moment."

Aunty Cheri graduated as a theta healing practitioner in 2014 in order to enhance her work using ancient and traditional healing circle methodology taught to her by Aunty Josie Boyle, a Wongi elder.

"Like my father, Aunty Josie and Aunty Beth both taught me to value, respect, honour, practice and appreciate principles of Aboriginal law/lore, value, and practice Aboriginal Spirituality and respect and maintain our Aboriginal cultures in their diversity and complexities as culture is practised today," she wrote online.

A year ago, the NewsMail reported on Aunty Cheri's part in bringing an ancient Aboriginal healing circle work program to the IWC to help heal modern wounds.

Both indigenous and non-indigenous locals were encouraged to attend the "life-changing" program.

Aunty Cheri believed that reconciliation involved more than just an aspiration or plan, and needed "spiritual profoundness".

In 2017 she highlighted the terrifying issue of young children being given the drug ice, and called for awareness in order to protect future generations.

Last year, Aunty Cheri was included in the NewsMail's list of most influential Bundy people.

Her life experiences were myriad, having worked as a part-time model, and as a women's hostel supervisor and as a child protection officer.

She has also served as a foster parent to 13 Aboriginal children.

She worked for 14 years in Western Australia's prisons, facilitating and therapeutically working with men who had committed violent and sexual crimes.

Previously, Aunty Cheri was awarded by the Worldwide Who's Who Professional of the Year in Spiritual and Social Services.

She became the first Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person to also be awarded life membership to the Worldwide Who's Who.

She is survived by husband Ara Harathunian, her children and other family members.

The NewsMail has chosen not to publish photos of Aunty Cheri unless authorised by her family.

For those wanting to pay respects, funeral arrangements will be published in Saturday's NewsMail.

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