In an event organised by Fighting In Resistance Equally (FIRE) on January 26, more than 10,000 people gathered at The Block in Redfern to pay their respects to Australia’s first nations and show support for Indigenous rights.
Ken Canning, chairman of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, kicked off the event by saying: “It’s really great to see all of these faces here. We want this to be a healing day and we need this to be a peaceful event.” He added: “We are peaceful people despite what the media says.”
Sue-Ellen Tighe from Grandmothers Against Removals spoke about their fight against the removal of Indigenous kids in northern NSW. “We are working on strategies to stop our kids from going away from their homes. We need people to monitor what this department is doing. We need them to stop,” she said.
Anti-Adani activist Adrian Burragubba told the crowd January 26 is not a day for celebration. “You don’t celebrate colonisation, murder or rape,” he said. He added: “We have never been consulted about how they are treating our land. This day represents all what we have done. We have proved them wrong. Mother nature has proved them wrong.”
Toward the end of the speeches, a young member of the Bowraville community, Gavin Walker, send a powerful unifying message. “This government is the same people who denied the rights of the LGBTQI community, the same people who have imprisoned refugees in off-shore detention centres in Manus Island and Nauru, and they are the same people stopping our railway workers from fighting for better wages and quality of life. We will be protesting until we have justice.”
The march saw thousands of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people come together in an event that filled the streets of Redfern, moved through Chippendale and finally reached City Road. As the crowds moved, a river of red, black and yellow could be seen all the way from Victoria Park.
“Always was, always will be” was the predominant chant throughout the march, which marked 230 years since Captain Phillip and the First Fleet arrived in Sydney.
This year’s march was a clear sign of the rise of a collective consciousness in support of equality for all, which seems to be something that most Australians believe in and are willing to stand up for.
The march ended at the Yabun Festival in Victoria Park. This event is a large gathering that recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture on January 26 every year.