Friday marked a moment in time that, for some, is still as raw as a scab on a tender sore.
Local primary school students and members of the Yass Valley community marked Reconciliation Week with a flag-raising ceremony on Friday. Photo: Jess Cole.
It was the anniversary of that landmark 1967 referendum, passed with a majority, to make laws for and count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as Australians.
The anniversary is also the first day of Reconciliation Week, which will end June 3, the anniversary of Mabo, and though for some it can be a time of jubilation, for others, this period is a reminder of so much that was lost.
For some, lost was their family, their culture, their stories, and their connection to the land. Within the Yass Valley district, probably every Aboriginal household can share a story how they, or a mother, a father, aunt or uncle, nana or pop, was torn from their parents and sent to assimilate into a world, of which they knew nothing.
In the process, the culture and sharing of stories and language they were wrenched from was eroded, leaving behind a legacy of too many people trying to realise where they are from and coming to grips with the depth of history denied by that removal.
Over 30 Yass Valley residents, including students from Berinba Primary School and Yass High, came out to participate in the annual Aboriginal and Australian flag raising ceremony held at the Yass Memorial Hall on Friday, as part of National Reconciliation Week.
Local Ngunnawal Elder Kenny Bell spoke to the group about what the week is really all about.
“In 1967, we became citizens in our own country. It may sound silly but that’s the way it was at the time,” he said.
“Reconciliation Week is about how we now come together, we are together, we live together. We’re not separate anymore.”
Mayor Rowena Abbey and Uncle Kenny, alongside local Indigenous children were then asked to help raise both the Aboriginal and Australian flags together.
Yass High School students Travis and Jayden Bell played the didgeridoo in honour of Reconciliation Week and Tyahn Bell spoke the Welcome to Country in tongue.
Following the flag raising ceremony the Yass Valley community hosted the annual Biggest Morning Tea.
Cakes, slices and the like were in abundance, the best of the best was laid out for everyone present to enjoy.
Yass Valley Council staff contributed to the morning tea with a “staff bake-off”. Gill Elphinston won the Golden Whisk with her delicious passionfruit slice.
“Community events like the Biggest Morning Tea do not happen without amazing volunteers and support from local businesses and residents,” Mayor Rowena Abbey said.
“Thank you to Deb Barrie, a cancer survivor, and her team of helpers for making today’s Biggest Morning Tea such a success.”
Yass Valley’s Biggest Morning Tea raised $1325 for the Cancer Council.
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