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Reconciliation celebrated with events at Lismore Showgrounds

THE smiles that flooded the Lismore Showground yesterday for Lismore City Council's NAIDOC Day celebrations were further enhanced by the blue skies and sunshine the day was gifted with.

The showgrounds, the site of a significant Aboriginal bora ring, had come alive as thousands of local people explored the many stalls, food vendors, entertainment, and children's activities on offer for the day of reconciliation.

Lismore City Council's community engagement officer, Sandra Vincent, said it was turning out to be an "absolutely amazing day."

"It's the first year in the six years I've been involved that the sun is shining," she laughed.

It was a perfect day to celebrate reconciliation and to come together, she said.

Greg Cummins (6), of Lismore, and Caroline Bradshaw (11), of Alstonville, have fun at the NAIDOC celebrations at the Lismore Showgrounds. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Greg Cummins (6), of Lismore, and Caroline Bradshaw (11), of Alstonville, have fun at the NAIDOC celebrations at the Lismore Showgrounds. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

"It's just lovely, it warms my heart."

While held for NAIDOC Week, Lismore City Council always runs it early so it doesn't fall within school holidays so that local school children can enjoy the day together.

That was lucky - because at least 20 local schools attended the day and 155 children from those schools graced the stage with songs, raps, dances and other performances.

"One thing I think is really great is that they have a buddy system - each of the kids are paired up - one indigenous child and one non-indigenous child - for the day," Ms Vincent said.

"It was a wonderful chance for all people and the local indigenous elders to chat up and share their stories, Ms Vincent said.

Greg Cummins (6), of Lismore, has fun at the NAIDOC Celebrations held at the Lismore Showground. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Greg Cummins (6), of Lismore, has fun at the NAIDOC Celebrations held at the Lismore Showground. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

One of those elders, Auntie Hazel Rhodes, was enjoying the day immensely.

Auntie Hazel of Lismore, said NAIDOC Day was always a day she loved - because of the message it brought, and because of the chance to see so many people she knew and meet those she didn't.

"Everybody gets together, whether they know each other or not, that's not the point," she laughed.

She said she loved to see all the young children having a good day.

As a child herself, she faced controversy as she was one of the first aboriginal children to attend school at North Lismore School (Now Richmond River High School), she said, even though she was told she was "too black" to attend (despite her being very fair-skinned).

Greg Cummins (6), of Lismore, has fun at the NAIDOC Celebrations held at the Lismore Showground. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Greg Cummins (6), of Lismore, has fun at the NAIDOC Celebrations held at the Lismore Showground. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

But that's all in the past now, she said, and she was enjoying celebrating reconciliation and watching the children performing on stage and doing what they loved.

Achieving goals, she said, is not just for some people - all people should be allowed to try to achieve what they want to achieve.

"I always tell the kids: 'You want something, you go and get it!'" Auntie Hazel said.

Other Lismore City Council NAIDOC Week events include: Monday, July 7: Aboriginal NAIDOC Committee flag-raising ceremony at Lismore TAFE Grounds.

Thursday July 10: Lismore Produce Markets, Magellan Street, featuring local artist Billy Smith; and Aboriginal NAIDOC Committee presents Little Miss and Mr NAIDOC 2014 at Lismore Shopping Square, Saturday, July 12: Aboriginal NAIDOC Committee NAIDOC Workers' Dinner at the YWCA Lismore, July 7-13: Aboriginal NAIDOC Committee Art Exhibition featuring ACE Cultural Art students at Lismore Shopping Square. Visit lismore.nsw.gov.au for full details.

Black Man Dreaming performs at the NAIDOC Celebrations at the Lismore Showgrounds. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Black Man Dreaming performs at the NAIDOC Celebrations at the Lismore Showgrounds. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

Topics:  naidoc, naidoc day



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