NAIDOC flag ceremony celebrates Gympie's community
NAIDOC Week is a "celebration of us".
The community message was clear at Gympie's NAIDOC flag-raising ceremony in Nelson Reserve yesterday.
"This is a real celebration of all the Gympie community," event MC Henry Neill told those gathered to launch NAIDOC Week.
"We are standing on sacred ground, the sacred ground of Gympie; the Kabi Kabi people."
Gympie's ceremony was one of many held around Australia to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during NAIDOC Week.
Cooloola Aboriginal Services Incorporated President Aunty Lillian Burke opened the ceremony by acknowledging the traditional owners; the Kabi Kabi people, and the elders that have passed before.
She said this year's theme, Sacred Ground, reminds us to learn, respect and celebrate.
She said the Australian Aboriginal people are the world's oldest living culture.
She told how the first Australians were exceptional farmers who spent their time burning and organising the land.
"The first Australians used the land for nearly 70,000 years," she said.
"Aboriginals have a very spiritual and respectful connection to the land.
"We are survivors and have a lot to be proud of."
A smoking ceremony was performed to cleanse the sacred ground and remove bad spirits.
Before the Aboriginal, Australian and Torres Strait Islander flags were raised, Reverend Dave Thomas said the community has a long way to go to achieve a better connection with each other.
"We have to, both sides, continue to work together to continue to seek reconciliation for our community, by learning from, respecting and embracing each other," he said.