Hundreds of First Nations people and supporters gathered at Lismore Environment Centre this morning to mark Invasion/Survival Day.
‘Today is about coming together for a Day of Mourning,’ said Uncle Gilbert Laurie, a Yaegl and Widjabul man.
‘We have native title rights, but we are still under the thumb of the white man. They still control us.’
The event began with a smoking ceremony and featured young dancers, musical performances and speeches from elders.
‘This is the day that we hurt. This is the day that our blood was shed,’ said Lismore’s Aunty Lil, a trans sistergirl from the Worimi, Biripi, Dunghutti, Wiradjuri and Bundjalung nations.
‘Today is the day we remember. They say lest we forget for all the soldiers… well, lest we forget, today, of the pillage and the carnage and what they’ve done here to our people,’ Aunty Lil said.
‘The rivers ran red because of the massacre that was happening here on this land.’
Although the mercury topped 30 degrees in Lismore, a crowd of several hundred spilled on to the street and across the road.
Yiman/Bundjalung woman Carlie Atkinson, who was one of the event organisers, paid tribute to Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, the Northern Territory’s first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher, who was named as Senior Australian of the Year overnight.
Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann’s achievements were something to be proud of even though it was a sad day, Ms Atkinson said.
Photos Philippa Clark
There is no Pride in Genocide. For the last 70 plus years of my life I’ve known the hurt & confusion
of the friends & people I’ve worked with – young & old. Caring & simple common sense has been a
long time coming. Now, at least, we stand on the brink of understanding what First Nation people
have been put through & it’s not pretty. I know how ugly & distorted things were back in the mid
1970’s… so much so that I was at breaking-point due to my findings. James Cook Uni sectioned
them out. The reason I’m not there today is because I’m not at all well. Still my best wishes are
there with you along with my heart.