I haven’t cried through a movie in a long time but this true story just broke my heart. Rabbit-Proof Fence is set in Western Australia in the 1930s. During this time Australian Policy dictated that ‘half-caste’ children needed to be protected from their aboriginal heritage and so they were forcibly removed from their families and relocated in re-education camps where the children could be introduced into ‘proper’ white society and eventually after a few generations the aboriginal would be bred out of them. This policy stole a whole generation of children. Rabbit-Proof Fence tells the story of three little girls, Molly, Daisy and Grace, from the town of Jigalong and their life spent running away from the camps. In the camps, the children are told they don’t have parents anymore but these little girls wanted to be back with their mothers, they wanted their families back.
Although it was only a small part of the film, the hardest parts for me to watch were when the adults in the camp told the girls they no longer could speak their own language. The littlest one, Daisy, gets excited about new clothes and is told, “This is your new home. We don’t use that jabber here. You speak English.” Of course the girls did already speak a little English but their first language was a local aboriginal language. My heart hurt when they were told not to speak to each other in their first language anymore. For me it is the ultimate denial of who they are as people. When people loose their language, they loose a part of themselves.
Rabbit-Proof Fence may be a difficult film to watch but it is certainly worth seeing once. You will fall in love with Molly, Daisy and Grace and be cheering for them to make it home.