Celebrating NAIDOC Week Coonamble Style

NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. NAIDOC celebrations are held around Australia in the first week of July each year, to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The theme for NAIDOC Week 2012 is the Spirit of the Tent Embassy: 40 years on.

1972, the tent embassy in Canberra became a powerful symbol of unity when early one morning, a  beach umbrella was placed in front of Old Parliament House in Canberra. With the umbrella were four indigenous men; Michael Anderson, Billy Craigie, Tony Coorey and Bertie Williams. Planting the beach umbrella was their way of protesting the unfair legislation regarding Indigenous land rights.It did not take long before others, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, joined the protest with their tents in tow, creating what is now called the “Aboriginal Tent Embassy”.

The fact that the Indigenous people felt as though they were treated as foreigners in their own land and needed an embassy was just one of the important messages the protest showed the Australian people. The founders of the tent embassy instilled pride, advanced equality and educated the country on the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. To move forward, we must acknowledge the traditional owners of Australia, learn from their experiences and ask ourselves… what have their sacrifices meant for our country?

At St Brigid's in Coonamble, we celebrated our Naidoc Day on Friday 29 June 2012. All the students and staff wore red, black and or yellow clothes. Activities on the day commenced at noon with Mass. Many children made individual contributions to the Liturgy and Y1 and Y2 were very animated in singing the final hymn, outlining what we have in Australia.

Following Mass, all the children and the adults present were treated to a sausage sandwich, juice and fruit. In the afternoon, the students divided into their Peer Support groups and rotated around the School, participating in a variety of of activities; including traditional Aboriginal games, tasting of freshly cooked Johnny Cakes, painting, dancing and land rights games and viewing a dreamtime story. Everyone had a fabulous time and we thank the community members and groups that assisted with the activities.

Trish Crawley


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