City News

Sydney lockdown strikes NAIDOC week celebrations for the second year in a row

NAIDOC in the City, an annual event usually held in Hyde Park, has been cancelled for the second year in a row. This year, it will be held online to support Indigenous artists and stall holders. Photo: City of Sydney

By EVA BAXTER

One of the biggest annual events of NAIDOC week invites Sydneysiders to Hyde Park for a day of festivities.

Stay-at-home orders implemented for Greater Sydney makes 2021 the second year in a row that restrictions have altered NAIDOC in the City’s original format.

Pauline Clague, associate professor at Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, one of the event organisers, told City Hub, “it’s a harder one this year because it’s two years in a row we’ve had the hit of COVID around NAIDOC, it’s really unfortunate.”

“NAIDOC is usually a great time for our mob to earn a lot of money, it’s a big event in our calendar, so we decided instead of postponing that we would take it online.”

“We’re trying to make sure that we’re still giving the artists the best out of the day, so that they’re not feeling the pinch of the cancellations or postponements that have happened across the city during NAIDOC,” she said.

Troy Russell and his band Gii, which means heart in the Gamillaroi language, were set to play the event. All the gigs they had planned over NAIDOC and this period have been cancelled.

“We love to play music, we love to play for audiences and what goes along with that is an income as well, but that’s not a big disappointment, it’s more about the playing, it’s not about the money,” Russell told City Hub.

He said performing over NAIDOC week means a lot to him, “being able to perform for those audiences because the songs, even though they don’t particularly say that they’re First Nations issues, the story tells of that.”

Heal Country!

This year’s theme ‘Heal Country!’ calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage.

“It’s important to reflect that we stand on Mother Earth every day and we have to look after that country,” said Clague.

“A lot of Indigenous mob are always caring for country in some way. It’s not just about healing country, but it’s about looking after and healing ourselves, because without our wellbeing being looked after, then country can’t be looked after.”

“We feel that we’re still gonna have some fun and still try to engage with people, so they feel like their voices are heard within this week,” said Clague.

NAIDOC week begins on the first Sunday of July. It was linked to the Day of Mourning held from 1940 until 1955 on the Sunday before Australia Day and was shifted to July after it was decided the day should not be a protest, but also a celebration of Aboriginal culture.

Clague said for her, “it’s a time for our mob to celebrate that we’re still here, always was, always will be.”

NAIDOC in the City goes live online on July 10th.

Maggie-Jean Douglas ‘Care for Country,’ the 2021 National NAIDOC Poster incorporating the Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag. Photo: NAIDOC

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