Each year NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) becomes even more of a celebration. It’s a day to acknowledge the First Nations Peoples of this country and for all Australians to come together to take another step further towards (re)conciliation with First Nations (Australians) and for First Nations/ Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
The 2017 NAIDOC theme was ‘Our Languages Matter’ and this is our wrap up of how I.C.E. got involved.
The NAIDOC Cup
Now in it’s 7th year the NAIDOC Cup is a combined primary school sports day gala for First Nations/ Aboriginal students and their friends. Held at Hunter Fields in Emu Plains, it was conceived by Donna Hancock, a Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services worker.
Various Western Sydney primary schools had the opportunity to display their athletic talent running fun, competitive games and learning about teamwork through Blackfulla Culture.
An echoing and proud Welcome to Country was given by Dharug Elder Greg Simms, punctuated by a mob of galahs expressing approval. This was followed by a Smoking (ceremony) by Uncle Wesley Marne which signalled the start of the day’s events. Older students played Oztag or Netball, while the younger students partook in First Nations/Aboriginal Culture activities, like cultural heritage games, learning about and holding cultural heritage items, having their face ‘painted up’, and listening to First Nations/ Aboriginal music.
There was a free BBQ and fellow I.C.E. producer, Christian Tancred and I were repeat visitors meeting Mob in the process. We hear that the NAIDOC Cup gets bigger and better every year and with this year being our first we’re already getting excited for another round!
Kooly Country Fire Pit Exclusive
After giving Uncle Wes Marne a ride home from the NAIDOC Cup, we asked him if he could come along to the Kooly Country – Show & Tell to Smoke and give us a few of his stories. The event was held around an open fire pit a Koolyangarra Aboriginal Child & Family Centre in Cranebrook.
The crew from I.C.E. included myself, Producer Christian Tancred, one of our new facilitators Phoebe Grainer and I.C.E. Trainee Steven Ross Jnr. As the afternoon changed into the early evening the participants and guests arrived to begin the readings around the fire. After Acknowledgement of Country and Smoking by Uncle Wes Marne we began reciting the poems, prose and thoughts of the participants from the Kooly Country writing workshops.
Unfortunately a few participants were not present due to Sorry Business. The participants acknowledged the persons who were not there and this made everyone feel more connected to the strength and the Culture of who we are as First Nations people, whilst acknowledging the place that is Cranebrook.
Like all good fires pits, yarning comes fast and easy. Uncle Wes Marne had us all leaning forward in our seats to hear the stories of his own Dreaming, his time as a young man as well as the odd cheeky joke about organised religion.
The Deadly staff at Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services, Trudy Grant, Tracie Harris and Bronwyn Peters-Nutall made a large stewpot of curried sausages with damper and we ferried out the ‘lubly’ stew for the guests. With bellies full, yarning and laughing punctuated the space at Kooly we felt the event unfurled beautifully.
Thank you for all those come along and supported the strength of First Nations Culture in Cranebrook.
BURRAMATTA NAIDOC 2017
The other exciting event of the week was BURRAMATTA NAIDOC 2017, held at Barry Wilde Bridge alongside Burramatta River. This was a great day out for visitors and performers alike. For consecutive years now, I.C.E. has worked with City of Parramatta to create something special to be included on this celebratory day.
This year I.C.E. produced a sound bath, an immersive audio soundscape that incorporated Dharug Language spoken by local Dharug woman Jacinta Tobin and Corina Marino. With permission from Jacinta, Dharug Language audio was remixed into a rich and deep soundscape created by I.C.E. Trainee Steven Ross Jnr.
To hear Dharug Language on Dharug Land is faultless, harmonious and uplifting. We suggested to the willing visitors that ventured into the sound bath to sit and relax, even close their eyes and let the music and vibrations wash over. Many of the visitors re-emerged with positivity and more questions about the work.
The day was topped off with fireworks lighting up the Burramatta sky. This was accompanied by the music of I.C.E. Trainee Steven Ross Jnr whose dance track was again peppered with Jacinta Tobin’s audio of Dharug language.
Looking around I witnessed the crowd transfixed in a union of two theatrical elements of sight and sound, celebrating the diversity of First Nations Peoples (of Australia). Maybe ‘Australia Day’ should be moved to somewhere in the middle of the year, say, around NAIDOC? That would be fine for this fulla. But then again, we ‘celebrate’ everyday.
NAIDOC Week 2017 was held from 2-9 July.
Words by Colin Kinchela – Gomeroi Nation is the First Nations Creative Producer.