Building stronger cultural awareness, empathy and social cohesion in Canberra for more than 30 years was the crux of Tracey Fowler Whetnall's life, one of Canberra's Indigenous rights advocates and business leaders.
The devoted Dharawal woman from NSW, who died in 2019 at age 56, was recently named as one of six recipients of the 2020 ACT Honour Walk, which was postponed due to Covid.
In recognising her achievements, the ACT government stated that Ms Whetnall dedicated her life to making a difference through cultural awareness, including being the ACT's first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Official Visitor and the longest serving in the country.
Her leadership and commitment to Narrabundah's Boomanulla Oval and integral role as an active board member on the Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation were also acknowledged.
She went above and beyond for many people no matter their background - more amazing was that she was a single mum who worked around the clock.Ross Fowler-Lane
One of six siblings born to a Scottish father and Aboriginal mother, Ms Whetnall grew up in Sydney before entering defence, where she worked briefly as a cook in the army reserve.
After marrying a soldier, she moved into Indigenous employment services.
Ms Whetnall previously said it was only when she went back to school to finish year 12 that she felt the full weight of racism in Australia that led her to focusing on tackling the issue full-time.
Mrs Whetnall's daughter, Shara Fowler, said she remembers her mother as being a beacon of inspiration for many.
"She showed that if you've got a passion, you'll get there despite the setbacks and obstacles," Ms Fowler said.
"She was well driven, she had a goal and wanted to reach it.
"She didn't let anything stop her because she wanted everyone to be treated as human beings with human rights."
Ms Fowler said her mother's key passion was visiting and working with Indigenous inmates at the Alexander Maconochie Centre where she is the longest-serving visitor.
"It was working with the boys that she never had, because I'm an only child. Those were her sons," Ms Fowler said.
"She was a strong bridge between peoples and the things she taught me has made me strong.
"I'm a single mom just like her."
Ms Fowler said the latest ACT government honour made her proud because it meant her own daughter and other family members have another monument they can visit.
"The ones who try to change the world for the better die young. All the work she had done in a short amount of time has helped a bunch of people," she said.
Ms Whetnall's brother, Ross Fowler-Lane, said her work was her life that meant she put herself last before everyone else.
"She was a great person with great empathy for many people in the community," Mr Fowler-Lane said.
"She went above and beyond for many people no matter their background - more amazing was that she was a single mum who worked around the clock.
"As a consequence of her approach to helping others, her lung cancer got the better of her."
Mr Fowler-Lane said her "biggest love in the whole world was our Aboriginal culture".
"It was a bonus to not only live and breathe it but also to go out and educate Australia about what it's like to be an Aboriginal person," Mr Fowler-Lane said.
"She ran her workshops from her perspective with integrity and respect."
Mr Fowler-Lane, who was in the public service for three decades before beginning his own consultancy firm inspired by his sister, said it was not just cultural awareness but other aspects of society that his sister contributed to.
"She always looked at types of opportunities for many different other consultants and other individuals in the community, even helping young men in the community look for trade jobs and making sure they had money and pair of boots," he said.
"Down to those little nitty gritty things around putting herself last."
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