26 May 2022

Think you know Canberra's cultural history? Learn more this Reconciliation Day

| Claire Fenwicke
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Smoking ceremony

‘Be Brave, Make Change’ is the theme for Reconciliation Day, 2022. Photo: Events ACT.

As smoke curls into the sky above the National Arboretum this Reconciliation Day, Diane Kargas Bray hopes everyone will reflect on their knowledge of the land’s ancestors.

“This is a whole week of reflection. It shouldn’t just be a party on a public holiday,” she said.

“Think about what you know, what you can learn and how you can continue to make life in our Territory better for everyone.”

The ACT Reconciliation Council member has been part of Reconciliation Day celebrations since they began in 2018. She said even she was surprised about how little she knew about Canberra’s Indigenous peoples.

“I always felt I had an interest and I understood, but I came to learn I didn’t know that much at all,” Ms Bray said.

National Reconciliation Week is a chance for all Canberrans to learn about shared histories, cultures and achievements. Everyone is invited to the National Arboretum for the Reconciliation Day public holiday on 30 May to foster a deeper understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

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There will be bush tucker demonstrations, arts and crafts, traditional storytelling, stalls and exhibitions, and the Sea of Hands installation.

Ms Bray’s favourite event is the portrait exhibition.

“It features Aboriginal elders, emerging elders and non-Aboriginal people who are committed to making a difference,” she said.

“We’ll also have panel discussions with elders and non-Aboriginal people to answer questions from the audience, giving us all opportunities to ask questions and learn more.”

There will be three-panel discussions throughout the day, led by Selina Walker, Chris Bourke and Samantha Faulkner.

Paper hands in grass

Sea of Hands installation at Reconciliation Day. Photo: Events ACT.

Beyond Reconciliation Day, Ms Bray had this advice to continue learning about our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and history. “If you hear a Welcome to Country, try to think about it – it’s easy to say the words, but what is it that you share with our 60,000-year-old culture?” she asked.

“If you’re at a function where an elder speaks, go say hello and ask them questions. Work out the cultural names of where you live, work and visit. Make that a journey for the whole family.

“Reconciliation is for all of us, and it’s about year-long learning, not just a day.”

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Ms Bray encouraged everyone to attend, no matter the weather.

“The weather might be disappointing on the day, but we won’t,” she said.

“Rug up, come along, learn and have fun.”

The Reconciliation Day event at the National Arboretum is not a ticketed event; however, some activities such as basket weaving and panel discussions have a limited capacity. It will be held from 10 am to 3 pm on 30 May.

A free bus shuttle service will be available between the City Interchange and the National Arboretum.

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