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Celia Pacquola apologises for her ancestors receiving ‘stolen land’ from Indigenous Australians


Comedian Celia Pacquola apologises for her ancestors receiving ‘stolen land’ from Indigenous Australians after discovering her ‘family connection to colonial atrocities’ on Who Do You Think You Are?

Celia Pacquola has issued an emotional apology after learning about her family connection to ‘colonial atrocities’ on Who Do You Think You Are?

The 38-year-old comedian discovered on Tuesday’s episode of the SBS docuseries that her mother’s English ancestors had received ‘stolen land’ from Indigenous Australians in the early 1800s.

In emotional scenes, Celia then met with Darug Elder Chris Tobin on the very land that had been taken from his ancestors and given to hers – something she described as ‘one of the most confronting and overwhelming experiences of my life’.

‘I’m sorry if this episode has upset anyone’: On Sunday, Comedian Celia Pacquola shared an emotional apology after learning about her family history of Who Do You Think You Are?

Before the episode aired, Celia shared a statement to Instagram in which she addressed the revelations about her family.

‘I’m sorry if this episode has upset anyone – I write this with the best intentions at heart and I’m hoping some good can come of it,’ she wrote.

‘I am very grateful to have been part of the show, to have the opportunity to discover more about my family, in particular to share with my mum whose parents passed away when she was in her early twenties. Her side of the family was a mystery to us.’

She added that she ‘loves being Australian’ but has always felt ‘guilt and shame about our history’.

As she began her genealogical journey, she had hoped the English side of her family were ‘convicts with hearts of gold who came here against their will’.

However, this was not the case.

History: In emotional scenes, Celia then met with Darug Elder Chris Tobin (left) on the very land that had been taken from his ancestors and given to hers, something she described as 'one of the most confronting and overwhelming experiences of my life'

History: In emotional scenes, Celia then met with Darug Elder Chris Tobin (left) on the very land that had been taken from his ancestors and given to hers, something she described as ‘one of the most confronting and overwhelming experiences of my life’

With the help of experts, Celia traced the lives of two of her ancestors who were free settlers in Australia and ended up buying or being given stolen land. 

‘One of them was in the military and arrived in the very early 1800s,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t shy away from my personal connection to the atrocities and mistreatment of First Nations peoples and Country any more.’ 

She went on to say that Darug Elder Chris was ‘amazing and knowledgeable’, and she was grateful to talk with him about their ancestors’ pasts.

‘No, we can’t do anything about what happened in the past,’ she added.

‘But we can do something now. As a white person it is only for me to listen and take cues from First Nations peoples as to what exactly that is.’

She went on to say that the process had made her want to ‘learn more, read more and be a better ally’ by supporting more Indigenous causes.

Lessons: Celia added that she was now trying to learn more, read more and be a better ally by supporting more Indigenous causes

Lessons: Celia added that she was now trying to learn more, read more and be a better ally by supporting more Indigenous causes

On the show, Celia became emotional while meeting Chris, who showed her a map of the land that her ancestors had been given.

‘In Aboriginal culture, we are part of the country,’ he told her.

‘Our trees are the trees of the country, the birds are the birds of the country, and we are the people of the country. We have that responsibility to look after the country for the next generation.

‘The British claiming our country and taking it was one of those great injustices. But there were some lovely people that allowed Aboriginal people to camp on their properties.’

Celia responded: ‘It was very confronting to see one of my direct ancestors given land which was not theirs to give.’

Discussion: 'The British claiming our country and taking it was one of those great injustices. But there were some lovely should that allowed Aboriginal people to camp on their properties,' Darug Elder Chris said

Discussion: ‘The British claiming our country and taking it was one of those great injustices. But there were some lovely should that allowed Aboriginal people to camp on their properties,’ Darug Elder Chris said

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