Reflecting on times of great pain, strength and resilience, Settlement Services International (SSI) staff and local community members gathered at SSI’s Community Hub at Colyton Public School, to walk down the long path of forgiveness in recognition of Sorry Day.
Officially held on Sunday 26 May, Sorry Day was an important moment during Reconciliation Week to remember our country’s dark history of forced removals of First Nation children.
At the Colyton Community Hub, the community was able to reflect on the painful history of the Stolen Generations, and recognise moments of resilience, healing, forgiveness and the power of saying “sorry”.
To begin the day’s events, visitors were welcomed onto Darug land by Indigenous staff members with okra paint and the affirmation, “I see you”.
After being welcomed as brothers and sisters, Lisa, the school’s Community Hub Leader and a strong Darkingung woman, held a traditional smoking ceremony which was carried out by Nicole, SSI’s Project Officer - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Specialist, and Gomeroi Woman.
While embracing the smoke, individuals were encouraged to reflect on those who have been wounded by policies of past times, and how there are now hopes for healing.
Nicole, SSI’s Project Officer - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Specialist, and Gomeroi Woman, then spoke of the importance of not forgetting the past, while working towards a more equal future for Indigenous Australians.
“First Nation people do not wish to live in the past; however the past lives in us. With over 60 000 years of cultural knowledge, wisdom, protocols and customs, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities continue to provide diverse landscapes, deep strength, resilience and purpose,” said Nicole.
“Now it is time to forgive the past, the present and future wrongs of this country.”
The day continued with a reading of the ‘Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples’, the speech read in parliament by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2008. Afterwards, attendees were encouraged to reflect on what was said and write what they were sorry for on a piece of paper. The group then gathered, reading their apologies aloud before the pieces of paper were collectively thrown into a fire.
The day closed with the reveal of SSI’s official Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reconciliation Action Plan artwork by Indigenous staff member Julie.
The event brought together people of all backgrounds, and was a deeply moving, educational experience for all who attended.
Sara Hamka, SSI Arts and Culture Project Co-ordinator reflected, “Being here today, and walking alongside my Indigenous colleagues, has really opened my eyes to how important it is to keep having these conversations surrounding equity and opportunity in the Indigenous community. We still have a long way to go.”