Published Echo News November 4, 2022
IN the fading light on the last day of October, eight days after the death of Middle Swan teen Cassius Turvey, thousands gathered in a show of solidarity at Midland’s Weeip Park.
The candlelight vigil brought together friends, family, mentors and strangers from right across Perth, not just in remembrance for the 15-year-old but also to send a message to the nation.
“I have no doubt we are standing at a crossroad for this nation,” Cassius’ uncle and Uniting Church Reverend Mark Kickett told the crowd.
“It is now time for us to look deep into our own souls and to have an understanding of what now needs to take place if there is indeed going to be healing.
“If there’s going to be a new way forward, if there is going to be an opportunity for us to be truly one nation now is an opportunity.
“Our community, your presence here, tells me strongly that is exactly where we are at and it’s time for us to speak into that space, to our politicians, to our parliaments, and it’s time for the voice of Aboriginal and Islander First Nations peoples to stand up and to be heard and to be counted.”
Cassius was walking along Patterson Drive with friends at about 4.30pm on October 13 when it is alleged a 21-year-old male approached the group and assaulted him and another boy, 13, with a metal pole.
Cassius spent five days in hospital before being released and sent home, hours later he suffered a seizure and two strokes.
He died in hospital on October 23.
“When [Cassius] was a little boy he said to his two big brothers, ‘one day I am going to be famous and everybody is going to know my name’,” Mr Kickett said.
“We are here to celebrate that, and we are here to begin a new journey as one people because our hearts and our minds are now together as one – This is his story.”
Despite the pain and suffering, felt by everyone attending Monday night’s vigil, the feeling in the air was not one of hate, but one of compassion.
“The greatness of community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its people,” Cassius’ basketball coach and mentor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker said.
“The Dalai Lama says compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.
“Have a look around at all the people here tonight, this is community, Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal, male, female, young, old and everyone in-between this is what the Swan community is all about – it is about all of us.”
She further added that he was now with his father, who died only a month ago, in heaven.
“His dad called him, his dad needed his angel right beside him in heaven,” she said.
“He was too special to be here with us, he needed to be in the Kingdom of God alongside his father.
“I can feel Cassius standing right next to me with his funny smile that lit up the path in front of him, he was a gentle giant and a beacon for all of us.”
Before the formal proceedings a Welcome to Country was conducted by Noongar and Yued Elder Uncle Ben Taylor who said while their koort (hearts) were saddened and in pain at the loss of Cassius, his spirit would always be with his mother Mechelle and his friends.
The oval was then covered in smoke as 15 fire pits were lit, one for each year of Cassius’ life, for a cleansing ceremony.
“Take a piece of that leaf and crush it, put it in your mind what you want from it,” ceremony leader Joe Collard said.
“Use the elements of fire, water and sky for a healing.
“The karl is the fire, it has a dreaming it has a story.
“Everyone has an opportunity to share in the smoke and participate in this healing ceremony.
“We will get justice, but we will be smart about it.”
If you need help services are available, reach out to Headspace Midland or Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Midland.