DISCLAIMER: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains the names of those who died.
The 2021 theme of National Reconciliation Week is: “More than a Word. Reconciliation takes action”. It is clear that words and good intentions are not enough to erase racial disparities in this country – and because reconciliation is a journey for all Australians, it means action from all of us.
The week allows Australians – indigenous and non-indigenous alike – to discover our shared histories and build relationships to better understand how we can positively contribute to achieving true reconciliation. But in doing so, it is essential to amplify first and foremost the voice of the First Nations.
From today, Thursday May 27, through Thursday June 3, Reconciliation Week offers many ways to get involved and start your journey of education, empathy and change.
From theater and moving art to dedicated music festivals and thoughtful panel discussions, all featuring First Nations artists, community leaders and academic experts – here are eight events you can attend during the Week of national reconciliation.
The Virtual Indigenous Film Festival
Along with this year’s National Reconciliation Week, the Virtual Indigenous Film Festival brings to your screens some of the best films produced by and featuring First Nations artists. The festival, which you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home, celebrates award-winning Australian films including High Ground, starring Simon Baker, Jacob Junior Nayinggul and produced by founding member of Yothu Yindi, Witiyana Marika, and the stunning Firestarter. : The History of Bangarra. Each film screened during National Reconciliation Week will be followed by a live question-and-answer session with filmmakers, community leaders and cultural academics. Head toward the website for the complete festival programming and to purchase tickets.
Yuin Byalla (Truth Talking) in Burramatta
RIVERSIDE PARRAMATTA THEATER
National Reconciliation Week is a time for truth, reflection and growth – which means conversations driven by First Nations voices. “Yuin Byalla” (Speaking the Truth) will bring together key members, experts and leaders of the First Nations community to discuss ideas and conversations around this year’s theme. The group will also examine the risk of climate change on indigenous communities and their historical and continuing connection to the land. Speakers will include award-winning writer Bruce Pascoe, astronomer Karlie Noon and Seed, Australia’s first climate network led by indigenous youth. You can buy conference tickets here.
The 7 stages of mourning
Sydney Theater Company
The Seven Stages of Mourning describe what it means to be an Aboriginal woman in contemporary Australia. First produced in 1995, Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman wrote the iconic Australian play, which sadly remains as relevant as ever today. Guided by Resident Director Shari Sebbens, the Sydney Theater Company’s solo show transports audiences through the seven phases of Indigenous history: dream, invasion, genocide, protection, assimilation, self-determination and reconciliation.
Starring Elaine Crombie, Pitjantjatjara actress Yankunytjatjara, Enoch and Mailman updated the inspiring and joyful production to reflect what has changed since it opened 26 years ago. The seven stages of mourning take place during National Reconciliation Week and until June 19. Buy your tickets here.
We were all in one place
National Reconciliation Week marks your last chance to see There we were all in the same place, the exhibition of moving photographs by artist Gunditjmara Hayley Millar Baker. The UTS Gallery exhibition brings together 35 works spanning five photographic series created by the award-winning Melbourne-based photographer between 2016 and 2019. With access to her grandfather’s photographic archive, mixed with modern imagery and intricate editing, intimate and deeply personal works explore history, memory and truth. You can check the website for more information about the exhibition.
Different Colors One People Festival
REDFERN COMMUNITY CENTER
In an event for one and all “Different Colors, One People” celebrates indigeneity, truth, history, culture and song. Head to Redfern Community Center grounds on Saturday, May 29 for a day of performances showcasing and celebrating art from First Nations, Pacific, Caribbean, African-American and POC communities in Sydney. Bring food and a picnic blanket, browse the party stalls and enjoy the eclectic lineup of musicians starring soul singer, PNG-Australian R&B, Ngaiire. Tickets are free, but you must register. Check the website for the full program and times.
Lunchtime Conversation Series: Politics and Activism
The Australian Museum’s Lunchtime Conversation Series returns in 2021 to shed light on the stories and groundbreaking work of First Nations leaders and historical figures in various fields. Throughout May and June and for six sessions, leading activists, creatives and academics sit at the Australian Museum Theater to discuss pioneers like Eddie Mabo, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, and more.
To celebrate National Reconciliation Week on Tuesday June 1, distinguished professor and wife of Eualayai / Gamillaroi, Larissa Behrendt AO, will sit with Wirdi’s man and Australia’s first Indigenous Senior Advisor, Tony McAvoy. Both men will remember the 1967 referendum and discuss Dr Evelyn Scott, a key activist and educator of the 1960s and 1970s who was instrumental in the reconciliation journey in Australia, as well as the continued struggle for reform. constitutional process. You can book your tickets here.
Our country, our future, our shared responsibility
Helping launch National Reconciliation Week is the free online event, “Our Country, Our Future, Our Responsibility”. Led by keynote speakers Aunty Judy Atkinson and Uncle Richard Frankland, the event will help celebrate and embrace Indigenous culture and history as that of all Australians, bringing together inspiring visionaries and First Nations community leaders. Hear alumni Sydney Swans great, Australian of the Year and anti-racist activist Adam Goodes, and watch a live smoking ceremony with Wurundjeri Elders. To finish things off on a high note, the program will end with a live performance by iconic musician Archie Roach. Register online here.
Kinchela Boys Home – Stolen Generation Mobile Education Center
For the purposes of revealing truth, history and healing, the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation hosts Australia’s first Stolen Generations mobile education center in South Eveleigh. KBHAC was established in 2003 by survivors of Kinchela Boys Home, one of the most notorious institutions associated with the Stolen Generations in Australia. The Mobile Education Center, a converted suburban bus, allows communities to experiment and engage with a variety of resources – from oral testimonies and archival material to film and visual imagery – to better understand the devastating trauma experienced today by those affected and their descendants. Make sure to register online here.
Want to learn more this week of reconciliation? Start with this piece written for Urban List by Yorta Yorta writer Taneshia Atkinson.
Image Credit: Jodie Choolburra Photography