NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Week had its official opening in Mullumbimby last week with the ceremonial raising of both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags outside Byron Council Chambers.
“NAIDOC Week is the most significant week of the year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” said the council's Aboriginal projects officer Val Saunders, “and is a time for us to celebrate our culture and share it with the rest of the community.
“It is a big celebration all over Australia, and can take place over a month, with events timed to involve school children and families on holiday.”
Arakwal woman Yvonne Stewart formally announced the opening of NAIDOC Week, with its theme of 'Honouring our Elders, Nurturing our Youth', and thanked the mayor, council general manager and all those gathered to mark the occasion.
“Honouring a day like this means a lot to us,” she said, “even though there is still a long way to go to make this big for the community.”
Arakwal Elder Auntie Dulcie Nicholls also addressed the gathering.
“Thank you to council for this respect,” she said. “This year's theme is really appropriate, with the reminder to us to take the time to honour all our elders and to think about what we do with our elders in the community.”
After the speeches and the raising of the flags, morning tea for all was served.
NAIDOC Week celebrations continue in Mullumbimby with an Arakwal family fun day in Apex Park today (Thursday) from 10.30am to 2.30pm, to which everyone is invited.
A free barbecue will be held today at the Peace Pole Park adjacent to the Byron Bay Surf Club as part of NAIDOC celebrations.
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Ranger and NAIDOC organiser Nigel Stewart said the event was a great opportunity to get out with your local community and celebrate Aboriginal culture.
“The day will include Aboriginal dance performances by the local Nari Dubay and Goolaboonya dancers and a special performance this year by Torres Straight Islander Rebus,” Nigel said.
“There will also be live music by Aboriginal country musician Gerry Byers and free activities such as basket making, wool weaving and other fun activities for the kids.
“Free sausages and traditional tucker will be cooked on the barbecue.”
The day will start at 10.30am.
NAIDOC celebrations are held in July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
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