Finding Family Blong Yu Mi

Guest blogger:  Sonia Minniecon, Co-founder, Blackbird - Finding Family Blong Yu Mi

Minniecon Family welcome home ceremony, Ambrym Island, Vanuatu.

About twenty years ago I began my journey to Find my family, I’m still on it, but this is what I have found so far.

I am a descendant of the Kabi Kabi people of South East Queensland.  I am also a descendant of the people of Vanuatu, belonging to four different Island groups. I am in Queensland because my grandparents were “Blackbirded” taken as slave labour from their island homes, to Queensland to work particularly in the sugar industry, but many other primary industries which has certainly made Queensland what it is today.

After 40 years of the labour trade, many were forced to return when the government of the day decided that the “Islanders" were to be deported back to their home islands and could no longer work in Queensland. However, my family remained, this may have been due to the fact that they had established families, and had been in the country for some time.  One of my grandfathers’ married an Aboriginal woman, the others marrying other Islanders.

My first reconnection was with the family of my paternal grandfather, James Minniecon.  We travelled to Ambrym Island, Vanuatu to see where and how my grandfather lived.  This was a life changing event.  I was amazed to see the faces that are so familiar and to hear names that we still maintain that are custom names.  Also,  learn a culture that does not exist with me in Australia and to begin to learn the language of my grandfather.   I was also amazed to come from a family, a culture ,whose values and beliefs are strongly engrained in their daily existence.  They still maintain ceremonies and customs from hundreds of years ago.  They still build wooden canoes, they maintain their language and sing their songs and tell their stories.

Sonia Minniecon's custom naming ceremony.

The islands where I am from still do not have clean running water, electricity, adequate health or education services, many people live in poverty.  What hit me the hardest is that many people over there live in wonder what happened to their Father, Uncle, Brother, Sister or other family, who was taken.  The other side of the “Blackbirding” trade. They too are looking to reconnect with their family here in Queensland.

Maureen Minniecon connects with Wesser family from Santo Island, Vanuatu

I must admit, the way in which my grandparents were taken, bribed or stolen from their homes as children is unfathomable for me to understand, however our family, led by the strength of these people our elders, their culture, values and hard work have enabled us to improve our lives and those of the generations to come. Through everything they have endured, our people still remain happy.  Reconnecting with each other makes us even happier.

This year Blackbird International are holding Finding Family Blong Yu Mi Workshops throughout Queensland to assist other descendants of South Sea Islanders, in their search to reconnect with their family.  If you would like to attend a workshop or request a workshop or assistance to help find family, please contact me, Sonia Minniecon by emailing  family@blackbird.vu.

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Hi, I am trying to find some history on my nana's father's family. His last name was Mackie and all I have been told is that he was from Ambrym and he chose to come over to Australia with the missionary's. My nana's name was Leasingcon to which I have named my youngest daughter. I have also been told that the con at the end of her name defines which island her family came from. Apparently my nana's grandmother was Leasingcon as well. I have been looking everywhere for some sort of information and would dearly love to find something out. If you or anyone you know may be able to help me out, it would be dearly appreciated.

Hello my name is Ashley Johnson, My great grandmother is Millicent Minniecon daughter of James Minniecon and Katherine Tabbi Lingwoodock. Would love to connect with my relations.

HALLO MY GRAND GRAND FATHER IS TANMANURE AND SOME OF MY FAMLIES HAVE BEEN BROUGHT DURING BLACK BIRDING IN THE MIDDLE BUSH OF SANTO AND I LIKE TO REFIND THEM IN QEESLAND .

Hello my name is Maxine. My Great Grandfather was James/ Jimmy Langrope or Langrap. He came from Ambrym and he lived in Rockhampton in the mid 1800s

HI my name is maki Isick Samson and i come from the island of Ambrym,Vanuatu .Im trying to find some people from my island whom i think by the help of my grandfather are somewhere in Queensland Australia that have been there as kidnapped by traders from Queensland.Their names are Albert Hotas who as Baptised and later called Albert River,another one is Simen and Charlie maan who went to Tasmania to train as a pastor and later bring in gospel to Ambrym that is catholic church.The two other ones who we think be kidnapped also are Sangul & Mail Alfred who we think must have been kidnapped as well during world war 2 .They are from the south eastern part of Ambrym.I have also tried to search names in our national library in vila about South sea islanders in Australia but couldn't find their names.please can you help us find their descendants if they have any like children or wives or any related descendants from these people from Ambrym .we wll be very happy to find them. Just to help you wilth a glue ,we track someone who came to see us in vanuatu back in 2014 by the name of Lewis sand who is a grandson to one of our elderly y the name of masia from Taviak village on Ambrym and has died last year but his wife is working in yarrabah hospital in queensland.later on, one of their great grand daughter came to visit their familes on Ambrym by the name of Ngullkurn pearson on her facebook page..

Hello my name is Dana minniecon I'm looking for my great grandfather James minniecon and my great grandmother Katherine tabbi lingwoodock. My grandfather name is Colin minniecon his son Gregory Ross minniecon is my dad but passed away in 2005. just wanted to know all the family names and needed to lean more about the family tree please.

Try contacting Blackbird International - Finding Family Blong Yumi on their webpage www.blackbird.vu/contact.htmlGood luck with your search.

Perhaps you can try the Queensland State Archives www.archives.qld.gov.au or contact Blackbird International - Finding Family Blong Yumi on their webpage www.blackbird.vu/contact.html

Thank you Maxine for your reply.

Hello my Name is Brandon Costello my great great grandfather Alexander Roach was blackbirded from Valpei Village on the coast of north west santo I want to find my family's in Valpei if someone can help me find my relatives there ?