Though rainy weather may have forced celebrations inside, the 2019 NAIDOC week flag raising event at the Byron Shire Council chambers in Mullumbimby was a bright and colourful start to the week of activities in the shire.
Bundjalung mob from near and far came to celebrate this important occasion on the Indigenous calendar and from Elder Aunty Dulcie in her nineties, to toddler Paul Roberts, people of all ages enjoyed a very special ceremony.
After a welcome to the council chambers by general manager Mark Arnold, Ngurungaeta Brown took over as MC for the day.
Aunty Dulcie Nicholls welcomed everyone gathered on Country then with wisdom beyond his years Ngurung spoke about his interpretation of the ideas of Voice. Treaty. Truth.
Brian Kelly spoke about Arakwal, family and Country and Deputy Mayor Michael Lyon spoke about the need for a treaty.
The Byron Shire is represented by three different Local Area Land Councils – Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council, Jali LALC and Ngulingah LALC. Land Councils were formed in 1984 – before the Native Title Act in 1993 – to protect cultural heritage and represent Aboriginal people’s interests in communities.
‘Tweed Byron Local Area Land Council are a hardworking mob,’ said Ngurung. ‘They have supported Arakwal’s Native Title fight since the beginning and continue to today. They fight hard every day to protect our country and the tribal lands of other Bundjaulung tribal groups.
‘Land Council are on the ground working to improve conditions for all Aboriginal people living in the Byron Shire with limited resources and staffing. The importance of their work and the partnerships they have with Byron Shire Council is often unsung and unnoticed in the wider community.’
Leweena Williams, CEO of the Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council spoke about unity, Belle Arnold talked about the history of NAIDOC Week and the importance of NAIDOC Week for continued cultural practice, and Sharon Sloane spoke before the flag raising.
‘The thing to remember is that we are all human,’ said Ngurung. ‘No matter where we come from or what we do, we are all the same. We are all human.’
The celebrations continue with a NAIDOC Week Family Fun Day from 11am at the Mullumbimby and District Neighbourhood Centre in Dalley Street and the annual Arakwal Family Cultural Day and march at 10am on Thursday in Byron Bay, meeting at the Tourist Information Centre next to Railway Park for a march to Dening Park, Main Beach.