For Aboriginal people living in and around Nimbin, participating in a two-day event full of bush tucker, song and dance which also raised money for their cultural centre was a truly positive way of marking ‘Invasion Day’.
Celebrating January 26 is a hard thing to do for most Aboriginals, according to many, including some well-known guests and Nimbin locals who spoke or performed at the ‘Talk It Up’ event at Nimbin City Hall during the weekend.
Newly-local Kerrianne Cox and Lismore’s Blackboi were invited to join the Survival Day 2014 gig to raise money for an upgrade to the kitchen facilities of the Nimbin Aboriginal Cultural Centre (NACC), which is housed in the old school canteen below NimFM in downtown Nimbin.
The ‘Talk-It-Up’ event, which included many forms of creative expression, explored the true history of Australia and aimed to create a deeper understanding within the wider community of the pathways that Aboriginal people have walked since occupation, not only on a personal level but also within a broader context of politics, law and the environment.
Uncle Cecil Roberts from NACC told Echonetdaily that ‘Invasion Day is actually on Monday, but in history, when the convicts landed they all sat down and partied before the ceremonial raising of the flag the next day.
‘But tonight we are also partying before Invasion Day in anticipation of what we are going to do for our people and this country,’ he said.
Uncle Cec said that the multicultural demographic of Nimbin makes it a perfect place for the coming together of Australia day, Survival Day and Invasion Day.
‘If it can happen anywhere it will be here in Nimbin, there are a lot of white people here but there is also a lot of Aboriginal people here too,’ he said.
Uncle Cec has been involved with the NACC for over 10 years since its conception. The centre is an art gallery and is also used for educational purposes.
‘Tonight’s fundraiser is to improve our kitchen so we can teach people about bush tucker and how to sell it,’ he said.
Kerrianne Cox, who has recently chosen Nimbin as her community to live in, has been welcomed by the Bundjalung mob.
‘Uncle Cec said to me when I left last time, “have a good time at home but come back home alright”,’ she said.
Ms Cox also believes Nimbin is a centre for future possibilities and the northern rivers is a sacred place.
‘It is time to let go of the pain, let go of bad behaviour and bad practices, we have a choice to be better people on this planet,’ she said.
‘Yes, I can be an angry black woman but my journey is to find peace in myself and find strength and healing in such a history of trauma in Australia, and in the world,’ she said.
Not serving people
‘Ms Cox said that the government is no longer serving their people.
‘They have forgotten, they serve big corporations now but they need to serve us and our children’s future,’ she said.
‘I call on the people and myself as a person to put myself at the table and say to the government and all those who are taking our resources and bringing poison and toxins to our world, we say “no” as custodians of this land.
‘We want to go into renewable energy and we have the technology and the people with expertise coming together to do this, let’s get going with that.’
Ms Cox shared some positive outcomes for sovereign people.
‘In Port Augusta, Essential Energy have come to the table with the Original people to implement renewable energy in that area,’ she said.
‘We are moving ahead people, let’s not get stuck behind.’
‘Freedom Day’ was the term coined by Ms Cox as the name for the day.
‘It is not about settlement, invasion or survival for me, it is about freedom, I don’t want to struggle. Conflict will change when we put a good deal on the table that is equal for all people.’
Ms Cox shared the importance of eating good food from the land.
‘It is good medicine to eat good food that is in season,’ she said.
Apart from the community, the region’s connection to organic food and their local farmers markets was a major drawcard for Ms Cox’s decision to move here.
She told Echonetdaily ‘the people here know that what has happened in this country over 230 years is not working, people here are ready to move. Most people here are connected to where their food comes from.
‘You can tell the difference between fresh foods that come straight from the producer than that shipped in from elsewhere sitting on shelves.’
Ms Cox will be gathering in Sydney at the beginning of February with many first world peoples, scientists and engineers.
‘Many of these people believe that the current government’s way is not the right way for us and our children’s future, and also for us as a species,’ she said.
‘The Chilean people are coming to share with us the successes of the 169 convention,’ she said, ‘Easter Island have already won and declared their sovereignty and are in the first stages of implementing renewable energies onto the island.
‘We will be giving notice to the government as they have not demonstrated the capacity to lead us and represent us,’ she said.
According to Ms Cox, there are many people with expertise who can positively redirect our future that have been blocked by government.
‘As an example, there are micro-organisms that have been invented that can eat toxic waste and clear the water, we want to bring those people who have these technologies to the table and say sorry we have blocked you in the past and let them take us forward.’
Thomas Avery, aka ‘Blackboi’, is a local musician who works closely with the Indigenous community, particularly with children through music.
He told Echonetdaily that the iconic symbols of Australia need to be revisited, a comment that Uncle Cec supported.
‘I feel there should be more consultation with the original peoples when the government advertise and brand Australia for Australia Day,’ said Uncle Cec.
Blackboi finds it hard to celebrate the invasion of Australia, saying ‘it is still a fact that Australia was illegally occupied.
‘We are asked to move on but the trauma is still very fresh,’ Blackboi said.
‘Blackfellas were only allowed to drink in bars in the seventies and up to that point were being paid in tobacco and rum.
‘That is only 50 years ago so it isn’t fresh, even 200 years is only three generations, most of us know our grandparents.
‘Most people won’t resist the way this country treats its original peoples because they have become dependent on the government via the dole, so the government have done a good job and achieved a very dependable society,’ he said.