Fighter for Aboriginal Land Rights and justice Solomon David ‘Sol’ Bellear, died peacefully in his home aged 66 in Sydney on Wednesday, November 29. A state funeral was held on Saturday, December 9 attended by more than 1,000 people and his final service at St Martin’s Anglican Church in Mullumbimby overflowed as people paid their respects.
Sol, a Bundjalung man, moved to Sydney as a teenager after the 1967 Referendum and was brought back to country to be buried on December 14.
‘Over five decades, Sol’s achievements are considerable,’ said NSW Aboriginal Land Council Chair Roy Ah-See.
‘Sol was the inaugural Chair of the Aboriginal Legal Service, Chair of the community-controlled Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern, founding member of the Aboriginal Housing Company and served as Deputy Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) in the 1990s.
‘Sol was also involved in and inspired by social justice movements for First Nations Peoples in North America, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and spent time working in solidarity with the Black Panther movement in the United States.’
Visiting the US as part of the UN General Assembly Aboriginal delegation, Sol then remained in the US for another six months working with the Black Panthers.
Sol was also graded by the South Sydney Rabbithos in the 1970s but was dumped after raising a black power salute following a try. He nonetheless continued with his passion for rugby at the Koori Knockout, representing the Redfern All Blacks at the first Knockout in 1971 followed by time with the Louis Street Dodgers and Wollumbin Warriors. He later became a director of South Sydney Rabbithos, mentoring many up-coming stars.
‘Sol stood for many things including self-determination, proper treaties with our people, Aboriginal control of our people’s health and legal services, Land Rights and a better understanding of our history,’ said his family in a statement.
‘Although, Sol achieved many great victories, much of this work remained unfinished at the end of his life. We ask all those who loved Sol to please continue his work so that the vision he had for his country and people might one day be fulfilled.
‘We will always treasure the time we had with him. He was the most loving and committed father, brother, Poppy and uncle any family could hope for.’
In lieu of flowers the family have asked that all donations be made to: The Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) Redfern www.justgiving.com/amsredfern.