Leaders pay tribute to Indigenous Pioneers

The ARL Indigenous Council has joined Indigenous, political and social leaders across Australia in paying tribute to Indigenous pioneers Jimmy Little and Bruce 'Lapa' Stewart, who passed away last week.

Mr Little, a passionate Tigers fan, was the first Indigenous singer to have a Top 10 hit in Australia and a leading campaigner to improve Aboriginal literacy rates.

Mr Stewart, a flying winger, played for South Sydney in the junior and lower grades before joining Eastern Suburbs in 1967, where he scored 10 tries from his 24 appearances.

A respected elder and mentor in the La Perouse community, ‘Lapa’ was a driving force in the La Perouse Panthers club.

“Their courage, their determination and their passion has inspired generations of Indigenous Australians to pursue their dreams from a time when opportunities were limited for Indigenous Australians,” said ARL Indigenous Council Chairman, Mr William ‘Smiley’ Johnstone.

“Both men shared a passion for Rugby League and for helping Indigenous communities and our thoughts are with their families at this time.”

ARL Indigenous Council Board Member, Mr Larry Corowa, added: “Jimmy was an ardent Balmain fan and you would always see him and his family at Leichhardt Oval,” Mr Corowa said.

“Lapa was a great player, a great character and the respect with which he was held in the La Perouse community shows what kind of man he was.

“What Jimmy and Lapa achieved during their careers and in their work for Indigenous people will never be forgotten.”