Tiny Kialyshia symbol of unity
AT just three-years-old, Kialyshia Dickson was too young to understand the meaning of Ballina's NAIDOC Week parade yesterday.
But as she sat proudly on her dad's shoulders, they symbolised just what the celebration was all about.
Kialyshia's dad, Elwyn Dickson, is an Aborigine; her mum is not.
Mr Dickson said the true meaning of NAIDOC Week was about 'uniting black and white'.
“This means a lot to me ... it makes me think of all the things Aboriginal people have done before me and all they have gone through,” Mr Dickson, of Ballina, said.
“Today is a good chance for the community to come together as a whole, black and white, and it's important for the kids to be involved too, so they know what it's all about.”
NAIDOC Week is held annually and celebrates the survival of indigenous culture and the indigenous contribution to modern Australia.
All Australians are encouraged to participate in NAIDOC Week activities, which are being held on the Northern Rivers this week.
Yesterday at Ballina, more than 200 indigenous and non-indigenous locals took part in a colourful parade down River Street to the Ballina Visitor Information Centre, where a flag-raising ceremony, Welcome to Country, traditional dance performance, speeches and a morning tea were held.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ballina Mayor Phillip Silver said he was impressed with the large number of non-indigenous people who had turned up to the event.
“I think it (reconciliation) is getting better,” Cr Silver said.
“It's not as good as it should be, but all we can do is keep moving in the right direction.”
Bundjalung Elder Bertha Kapeen, Bullinah Aboriginal Medical Centre Steering Committee Chairperson Nancy Walke, State Ballina MP Don Page and Police Superintendent Bryce Lyons also made speeches, congratulating the community on the event and inspiring optimism in the journey towards a future of black and white equality.
Ballina resident Kylie Coldwell, who took part in the parade, said it was important for parents and Elders to teach the children about the significance of NAIDOC Week.
“It's something we do every year as a way of celebrating our culture and recognising our history, and joining the community together,” she said.
This year's NAIDOC Week theme is Advance Australia Fair - the aim of the theme is to encourage people to reflect on the Australian principle of a 'fair go' and for them to consider the inequalities still experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia.