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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Kinship Festival – Unity Celebration

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Saturday’s Kinship Festival in Knox Park, Murwillubah

In Murwillumbah 6,000 people celebrated the annual Kinship Festival on Saturday, 25 May with the theme of Yabulgu – Together as one, Unity for our children’s future. The free cultural event, now in its ninth year, was the biggest yet, going from strength to strength despite the ongoing struggle to find secure funding.

Saturday’s Kinship Festival in Knox Park, Murwillubah

‘I’m humbled by the massive support of our community, volunteers, sponsors, and supporters, without the mass swell of support we couldn’t run this event,’ said festival coordinator and Murwillumbah Community Centre, Indigenous Programs Coordinator Lara Lei.

‘It’s the vision of the kinship organising community that we continue to offer a free festival including a free meal together as sharing and food are both a big part of our culture. Especially in this economic climate we worked so hard to find the funds to keep everything free for our community’.

Saturday’s Kinship Festival in Knox Park, Murwillubah

The Kinship Festival started with an extensive smoking ceremony led by Ernie Williams, Uncle Frank Krasna and other Bundjalung men with yidaki from Gary Kafoa. This was followed by the host dancers Kids Caring for Country Dance troupe led by Mudjai and Aunty Deirdre Currie. Mudjai led the group in the led up to the festival to construct a gunya and dance ground to host all the dance troupes for the corrobboree.

‘There were so many highlights in 2024 including the incredible dance troupes from across the region, Aunty Robyn Beezleys heart-warming and uplifting performance, the incredible fashion parades from Sarah Bolt, mind blowing performance from JK -47, the sand art and all the ways we get to see our people shine,’ Lara said.

Aunty Kath

‘This year it was important to us to honour the life’s work and continued support of Aunty Kath Lena. Aunty Kath did so much for the Tweed Goorie community and we send our love and thanks to her. We were honoured to have Clare Lena bless our gathering in her name,’ said Lara

Saturday’s Kinship Festival in Knox Park, Murwillubah

The Kinship Festival was a showcase of unity and of blak excellence from our region. There were so many special moments throughout the day with stall holders and performers, artists and dancers bringing such beautiful energy to the day. It was just so wonderful to have such a proper Blak Out in the Knox Park.

Jagun Alliance director and Bundjalung man Oli Costello was touched by the energy of the day. ‘Seeing so many mob and community coming together and the sense of connection and unity is really what kinship means to me,’ he said was a highlight.

Local community leader and dancer Michele Laurie, Yaegl and Gumbaynggirr woman was proud of the cultural exchange.

‘Seeing our little ones dancing and our Elders smiling. So many black made products, supporting black business really made Kinship Special,’ she said.

‘So many Allies too. Supporting to make it happen with us’.

Bundjalung man Dave Kapeen has been a member of the kinship committee for many years. ‘Honestly I don’t have one highlight I enjoyed the entertainment, the food, the atmosphere, and the people it was a great festival,’ he said. ‘It’s a  great festival with all individual deadlys coming together to celebrate unity’

Saturday’s Kinship Festival in Knox Park, Murwillubah

Widjabul Wia-bal dancer and fashion promoter from Mahmi (Mother) Guyamgan (Star) Bahna (Rise) Consultancy, Sarah Bolt travelled home to the region from Canberra to attend.

‘For me the highlight was showcasing stall holder products in the fashion show. And how community and other dancers supported through modelling their products,’ she said.

Young dancer Indira Arnold Freire has been dancing at the festival since the beginning.

‘My highlight of kinship 2024 was dancing and seeing all my people come together and share our joy and strengthening our community,’ she said.

Kinship Festival is a grass roots community event that pulls together an annual miracle for the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. It relies on community volunteers and support including financial support. If you want to get involved to support the 2025, ten year celebration of Kinship Festival please contact the Murwillumbah Community Centre.

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