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Byron Shire
June 24, 2024

Celebrating the life of Uncle Gordon Johnson 31/8/1950  – 26/1/2023

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Funeral notice

Pastor Uncle Gordon James Johnson, a Gumbaynggirr, Gooreng Gooreng and Islander man, died peacefully on January 26 at the age of 72. He will be greatly missed by many, in particular for his unfailing work in and support for people who had experienced sexual abuse, domestic violence and homelessness in Bundjalung Country over the last 30 years.

Born in Bundaberg on August 31, 1950 Uncle Gordon was the grandson of a slave who had been blackbirded from Malaita as part of the slave trade. His mother was Norma Joyce Nagas who married Walter Johnson and he was one of 14 siblings. When he was 16 his mother took her family to Brisbane to escape domestic violence; an experience had a profound impact on Uncle Godron.

Aunty Lois had started Arising Aid which has helped support people in the Bundjalung Region in relation to sexual abuse, domestic violence and homelessness; she was joined not long after it started by Uncle Gordon. 

Pastor Gordon Johnson.

He joined Aunty Lois in 2007 when they worked together doing ministry with Patricia Morgan said Aunty Lois. Uncle Gordon was first married to Christaina Anne Robinson who had sadly passed away and he and Austy Lois married in 2009. 

‘For me and Gordon all our children and grandchildren were treated equally. Gordon was a loving father and grandfather and between us we had nine kids: Tina and Lionel, Gordon Jnr, Rachel (dec), Dorcas and George (dec), Daniel, Cissy, Ettrica and Colin, Gemma and Sione, Muriel, and Emanuel; and shared 58 grandchildren. We continued to do our work helping the homeless in Mullumbimby and Brunswick Heads and throughout Bundjalung Country.

‘Gordon was a quiet, humble man who was a quiet achiever. We hadn’t spent a day part in the last 20 years. He qualified as a professional counsellor through Dr Peter Powell in addition to a range of other qualifications.

Uncle Gordon with Aunty Lois.

Arising Aid

Through Arising Aid they both worked on helping people in their communities including developing the Bush Tucker program that helped people understand more about their traditional foods and diet. 

‘We ran the Bush Tucker program together and we were teaching the elders and our mob how to go back to traditional food and being healthy,’ explained Aunty Lois. 

At the age of 60 Uncle Gordon encouraged a number of indigenous boys to go to TAFE and do engineering and decided to encourage them by joining them and completing the course as well. 

‘They did it together,’ explained Aunty Lois. 

Uncle Gordon and Aunty Lois have worked closely with many groups, people and politicians across the region and including Kevin Hogan Minister for Page who will speak at Uncle Gordon’s celebration of life.

State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin has also paid tribute to the late Pastor Gordon Johnson as a man of faith who had helped many people across the Northern Rivers through his work with Arising Aboriginal Islander Ministry.

‘My sincere condolences go to Uncle Gordon’s wife and fellow Pastor Lois as theirs was a true partnership, and to his family and friends,’ Ms Saffin said.

‘Pastors Gordon have spent their lives serving community and our local communities are truly appreciative.’

The celebration of Uncle Gordon’s life will take place this Saturday, 11 February at the Mullumbimby Showground, all are welcome to celebrate. 

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