The theme for NAIDOC Week 2020 is Always Was, Always Will Be. This theme recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.
Australia’s Indigenous people are spiritually and culturally connected to this country, a land that was criss-crossed by generations of brilliant Nations – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were Australia’s first explorers, first navigators, first engineers, first farmers, first botanists, first scientists, first diplomats, first astronomers and first artists.
Australia has the world’s oldest oral stories. The First Peoples engraved the world’s first maps, made the earliest paintings of ceremony and invented unique technologies. They built and engineered structures – structures on Earth – predating well-known sites such as the Egyptian Pyramids and Stonehenge.
Their adaptation and intimate knowledge of Country enabled then to endure climate change, catastrophic droughts and rising sea levels.
Acknowledging hundreds of Nations and cultures
Always Was, Always Will Be. acknowledges that hundreds of Nations and their cultures covered this continent. All were managing the land – the biggest estate on earth – to sustainably provide for their future.
Through ingenious land management systems like fire stick farming they transformed the harshest habitable continent into a land of bounty.
NAIDOC Week 2020 acknowledges and celebrates that our nation’s story didn’t begin with documented European contact whether in 1770 or 1606 – with the arrival of the Dutch on the western coast of the Cape York Peninsula.
The very first footprints on this continent were those belonging to First Nations peoples.
NAIDOC Week is traditionally held in July but celebrations were postponed this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic – owing to the public health orders, activities this week will be on a smaller scale.
Celebrating NAIDOC Week in the Byron Shire
NAIDOC Week 2020 celebrations will be held from 8 November to 15 November. Residents of the Byron Shire are asked to use the week-long celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People to acknowledge their connection to country.
Rob Appo, Council’s Project Officer Social and Cultural Planning, said the theme Always Was, Always Will Be. is due recognition that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for more than 65,000 years.
‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were managing the landscape, caring for country and maintaining cultural practices long before European settlement and NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for everyone in our community, and across Australia, to recognise this,’ said Mr Appo.
A flag-raising ceremony will be held today with representatives from the Arakwal people and the Tweed Byron Aboriginal Land Council, along with Byron Shire Councillors and the Executive Team.
‘While it is unfortunate we will not be able to have community representatives at the flag-raising event, as we normally do, I hope people take the time to mark NAIDOC Week in their own way,’ he said.
Lismore to livestream flag-raising
Lismore City Council will livestream a special flag-raising ceremony on Facebook this Monday to celebrate the start of NAIDOC Week 2020.
The community are invited to Council’s Facebook page at 10am for the celebrations which includes a Bundjalung Welcome to Country and a special announcement by Mayor Isaac Smith.
Even though Council’s NAIDOC celebrations this year have been scaled back due to COVID-19, Council’s Events Coordinator Leanne Clark said a range of events can be viewed online. ‘NAIDOC Celebration Day is about providing a space where the whole community can proudly celebrate the richness of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture,’ she said.
‘Due to COVID, this year that space is online and we are encouraging the community to join us there.
‘As well as the flag raising, we are working with Social Futures which is celebrating NAIDOC through share stories of resilience, hope and strength, by interviewing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members.’
Each short 3-5 minute film clip will be available on the Social Futures Facebook page.
Nimbin’s annual march from the hospital to Allsop Park will go ahead on Friday at 10.30am but the number of participants is capped at 20, however, people can show their support by lining the street at a social distance. A small gathering capped at 100 people will be held after the march at the Nimbin Community Centre grounds.
Tweed Heads cultural day
The Tweed Heads NAIDOC Week began yesterday with a flag raising ceremony at the Minjungbal Aboriginal Museum in Tweed Heads South.
Today there is a cultural day at Minjungbal Aboriginal Museum, and a Hall of Fame Reflection followed by a morning tea will be held at the museum on Tuesday starting at 9.30am.
The Youth Recognition, Sporting and Achievement Awards, honouring the achievements of local young people will be live streamed on Wednesday while on Thursday, there will be a livestream recognising 2020 Year 12 students, starting at 10am.
All events will be live streamed via the 2020 Tweed NAIDOC Facebook page.
On Friday 13 November the annual NAIDOC Week street march will have a different look due to COVID-19 restrictions and will take the form of a car convoy from Tweed Heads Civic Centre to Jack Evans Boat Harbour starting at 10am. At the boat harbour, there will be a speech to wrap up events at 11.30am.
Mayor of Tweed Cr Chris Cherry said she looks forward to the NAIDOC street march each year. It’s such a positive expression of community and a call to celebrate and respect culture.
‘I am glad it is going ahead, even in this revised format. It is important to see our communities come together.’
NAIDOC Week is also the perfect time to learn about the many cultural stories which are embedded into the Tweed landscape, some of which you can hear at Tweed Regional Museum’s award-winning Land | Life | Culture exhibition.
Listen to Kyle Slabb, a Gudjingburra Bundjalung descendant from the Far North Coast of NSW, speak about the importance of Country, and stories, to Aboriginal people.
Land – Life – Culture shares unique cultural, biological and geological stories that shape life in the Tweed Valley: stories of places, of people, and of the land.
Members of the local Bundjalung community contributed to the project, helping to shape it and sharing stories of this unique cultural landscape and its enduring significance.
Tweed Regional Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-4pm, at 2 Queensland Road in Murwillumbah.
For more information on Tweed Heads NAIDOC Week events, visit: www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/ATSI