This year’s NAIDOC theme, “Always Was, Always Will Be”, encourages all who live on unceded land to think about the unmovable connection that First Nations people have with the land, air and water that we live and work on every day, to think about the histories and stories of one of the longest continuing cultures. Also to consider our positioning as settlers of this land and beneficiaries of colonisation.
On Wednesday, the 11th of November, Information + Cultural Exchange hosted our NAIDOC Staff Development and Cultural Engagement day, led by Dharug Knowledge Holders and Custodians, Julie Clarke-Jones (Webb), Peta Strachan, and I.C.E. Associate Creative Producer, Dubs Yunupingu from Boorooberongal clan of the Dharug Nation and Gumatj from North East Arnhem land.
Julie, Peta and Dubs began our morning by leading us across the road to Prince Alfred Square for a cleansing water ceremony followed by a dance demonstration from Peta who is Artistic Director of Jannawi Dance Clan.
Feeling united and lighter, we shared morning tea together at I.C.E. followed by an incredibly generous yarn-up session with Julie, Peta and Dubs on what ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’ means on Dharug country.
Our session began as closed and intimate, in which Julie led conversation around some questions that I.C.E. staff had submitted to an anonymous question box. By the afternoon, we had opened up the room to some of our partners, participants, collaborators and colleagues from around the Parramatta region.
Our conversation was open and respectful with space for questions, advice and sharing.
Knowledge was shared from all sides of the room.
After this long conversation, we had lu Ji nch and travelled back over to Prince Alfred Square for a movement workshop led by Peta.
Peta, assisted by her daughter and fellow dancer, Dubs, guided us through the steps that transform our movement to prepare to learn the Spirit Dance, “Guwin”, and then we all learned the flag dance.
Finishing off the afternoon in the sun on Dharug land with movement and dance left us all in high spirits feeling refreshed and with much to reflect on.
Thank you to Julie, Peta, Dubs and all of our guests for making this event fulfilling, enjoyable and enlightening.
To find out more about our future work with Dharug Custodians and First Nations programs, please contact I.C.E. Producer Hannah Donnelly at [email protected] or keep updated via our social media.
Information + Cultural Exchange acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we are situated: the Burramattagal people and clans of the Dharug Nation. We give respect to Dharug Elders past and present, and acknowledge the First Nations people of Australia and those from across the globe who live in the area and work at and with I.C.E.
Images: I.C.E. Naidoc Day, 11 November 2020. Photos: Alicia Scott