For the First Nations 26 January is Invasion Day

Contributed by Joe Montero

First Nations peoples and their supporters will gather in locations around Australia today to mark what they call Invasion Day.  Captain Cook planted the British flag in the ground on 26 January and turned the land that became Australia into a British colony.

For those who were already living here, this meant dispossession. and an ongoing genocide that devastated populations

First Nations fought back, waged and continued resistance against overwhelming odds, and survived. Nevertheless, living conditions for most of the First Nations remain abysmal, and they have little say over their own affairs. Deaths in custody continue. The position of those in the First Nations is inferior to that of non-indigenous Australians. Open and subtle racism is an everyday reality.

Is it any wonder that celebrating the anniversary of the loss of their sovereignty and the beginning of the suffering being marked as Australia’s national day hurts and generates anger? By continuing with it, Australia is diminished and not the nation we could be.

Photo from Getty Images

So, once again, thousands will march across Australia today and call it Invasion Day. They have a right to do this, just as they have a right to be respected and listened to.

This does not mean than the whole of Australia should not be proud of who we are. The day on which this is recognised should be on a positive foundation of achievement relevant to our bigger community. It should not come at the cost of an important part of Australia. This is home for all of us.

Even if they don’t see it themselves, those who stubbornly cling onto 26 January and portray the Anglo Aussie as the definition of our people, diminish Australia into a caricature. This is a land of many peoples from many cultures, and those who were here in the first place.

Our capacity to recognise this is the measure of our maturity as a nation. Clearly, there is still some way to go before growing up. A people who has reached maturity will not celebrate the colonisation of the land to define them. They would choose a date that marks their coming of age. Two stand out. The Eureka Rebellion on 3 December 1854 and Federation on 5 July 1900.  They are achievements o be proud of.

Changing the date is an important step in growing up. We must do it.

But this will not resolve the problems faced by the First Nations. This requires that they have a voice in the parliament.

Australia is making some progress towards a referendum in this direction. This is positive and has its importance. If it remains just about a voice in the parliament, it will be tokenistic at best. The voice must exist outside the parliament. Nor is it enough to have fine sounding words on paper. They must be converted into practical action.

One way to achieve this is by working towards treat, where the dispossession and suppression are recognised, and autonomy and the self-management of First Nations are guaranteed. On this foundation, we can build unity among equals and rise as the nation we can be.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Rallies around the country

All times are all local.

Warrang/Sydney

  • An Invasion Day rally will begin at 9.30am at Belmore Park.
  • The annual Yabun Festival returns to Victoria Park in Camperdown.

Naarm/Melbourne

  • An Invasion Day rally will begin at Victorian Parliament House at 11am.

Meanjin/Brisbane

  • A Survival Day ceremony will be held at 7:15am in by the water at Oxley Creek.
  • An Invasion Day march will commence from the Queens Gardens, on George Street, in the CBD, at 10.00am.

Ngunnawal/Canberra

  • A Sovereignty Day protest march will begin at Garema Place at 9.30am and end at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on the lawns of Old Parliament House.

Nipaluna/Hobart

  • A rally will start at the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre on Elizabeth Street at 10:45am and march to Parliament House.

Tarndanya/Adelaide

  • A Survival Day march will be held from 12pm to 4.30pm in Tarntanyangga/Victoria Square in the CBD .

Boorloo/Perth

  • An Invasion Day rally will begin at 3pm at Forrest Chase in Perth City.

Garramilla/Darwin 

  • A smoking ceremony will be held at 7.50am at the Darwin waterfront conducted by Larrakia people
  • A rally will be held outside Don Dale Youth Detention Centre from 10am.

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