National Reconciliation Week doesn’t take place on any old arbitrary week of the year. The beginning and end of the week ( 27 May til 3 June) encompass two watershed dates for First Nations Australians.
27 May 1967, the day of Australia’s most successful referendum. More than 90 per cent of Australians arrived and voted in favour of giving power to the Australian government to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to recognise them in the census. Then came 3 June 1992. The day the efforts of land rights activist Eddie Mabo, an indigenous Torres Strait Islander, materialised. The High Court made the historic decision to overturn the legal doctrine of Terra Nullius.
With National Sorry Day on 26 May and Reconciliation Week starting 27 May, this is a reflective and commemorative period for many. Yorta Yorta rapper Adam Briggs (who you may know as Senator Briggs) tweeted some sage words:
“Reconciliation is for white people, you’re the ones who need to reconcile.”
If that stings, then you understand exactly what he is saying. Showing your support looks like real truth-telling and not sugar-coating Australia’s stained history with acknowledging its rightful owners.
For those looking for some guidance as to how to show up for First Nations Australians, check their unconscious bias and educate themselves on such an important subject, here are some events that will help.
Take Part In A Hands-On Reconciliation Experience
Reconciliation At Warndoolier
Saturday 28 May
Pay tribute to and honour the spirit of Noongar elder Doolan-Leisha Eatts at the reconciliation ceremony at Banks Reserve. Take part in a smoking ceremony, acknowledge and share stories and history of the place as well as explore the pathways for the future of restorative justice within indigenous culture.
Djarlgarro Beelier Reconciliation Walk
Sunday 29 May
Walk on country this Sunday with Sister Kate at the banks of the Djarlgarro Beelier (Canning River) at the Kent St Weir Park. The morning holds a performance, sharing cultural knowledge, a smoking ceremony and a walk through the Canning River Regional Park while learning the importance of caring for country.
Knowledge Is Power At These Educational Events
Disclosure: National Reconciliation Week Edition - Strong Black Women
Monday 31 May
Join an important discussion about the role the arts plays in creating space for reconciliation in modern society. This worthwhile and important panel discussion will be conducted by proud Nyoongar woman and Chair of Reconciliation WA, Carol Innes, with panellists from the First Nations art community in Perth.
Reconciliation Memoirs With Fred Chaney
Monday 31 May
Join the Honourable Fred Chaney AO and Ben Wyatt for an evening of engaging conversation that will help you reshape your ideas and educate yourself on some of the most important social justice issues we face currently. Hosted in the stunning outdoor courtyard at Boola Bardip museum, the event will also be live-streamed online.
Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Workshop
Tuesday 1 June
Engage in the history, culture, belief systems and values of Aboriginal people in Australia and learn about the impact of colonisation. Discuss the improvements we are able to make in order to improve workplaces and communities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the future.
Immerse Yourself In The Beauty Of Indigenous Art
Tracks We Share: Contemporary Art Of The Pilbara
11 March - 28 August
This exhibition brings together over 90 artists and 190 artworks in celebration of the most contemporary Indigenous art coming from the Pilbara. The display pays homage to the legacy that has informed it over the years. See the insight into the artistic output of the region whilst celebrating the talent of the indigenous community.
Be Brave Make Change Tours At WA Museum Boorla Bardip
Friday 27 May
Celebrate this year's theme for Reconciliation Week “Be Brave, Make Change” at WA Museum Boorla Bardip. Tour through the museum and learn Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories through intercultural practices. Spark interest in your own journey of reconciliation and converse about the Indigenous history of WA.
12 May - 24 July
Celebrate the creativity, diversity and ambition of the contemporary indigenous artists in Western Australia at the return of the Revealed exhibition at Fremantle Arts Centre. Meet artists, hear stories of the complex and rich culture of First Nations people and support local Western Australian artists.
Reclaim The Void Rug Weaving
Saturday 28 May - 1 June
This beautiful practice was conceived by the Ngalia elders of Leonora after expressing the grief they felt when seeing the holes in the land left by mining operations. The idea is said to symbolically seal holes with artwork that expresses the story of the country, made from weaving rugs together. Learn to weave rugs, share incredible stories and educate yourself on the importance of the natural land within Aboriginal culture.
Aboriginal Dot Painting: Platter Boards
Tuesday 1 June
Combining two seemingly unrelated wonders, dot painting and cheese, this free art class will see you paint your own cheese platter board with the intricate and beautiful indigenous dot painting designs at Walyalup indigenous cultural centre in Fremantle.
Read more on why Reconciliation Week is more than a morning tea here.
Image Credit: Supplied