The WugulOra (one Mob) Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo Reserve on 26 January 2022
Welcome to Country by Councillor Yvonne Weldon
This is a sombre day for the First Nations of this country and we need to show our respects to commemorate the ancestors.
Before we start the proceedings, if you are physically able, could you please stand for a minute silence.
Elders, NSW Governor Margaret Beazley AO QC, Mr Dennis Wilson, Premier, Minister Franklin, Andrew Parker, Chair and CEO of Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, many dignitaries, sisters, brothers and gender fluid/neutral.
I stand before you as a sovereign Wiradjuri woman.
I also represent my children and my grandson who also have a bloodline to the sovereign Bidegigal people of La Perouse.
None of us have ever ceded our rights.
My name is Yvonne Weldon, I am Wiradjuri woman from Cowra here in NSW.
My ancestral bloodlines connect all along the waters and the lands of the Kalare, and of the Murrumbidgee Rivers.
I am the elected Deputy Chairperson of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council who are cultural authority under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act for the land we are on.
I pay homage to the people of the Eora Nation who suffered the first impact of colonisation on behalf of all Aboriginal Nations.
This area is Ground Zero.
Where we are gathered is named after a strong, unwavering and truth telling CAMMERAGAL woman, called Barangaroo.
I pay my respects to Barangaroo and to all Elders past and present, all First Nations & all nations from across this country and the globe.
On this day two hundred and thirty-four years ago, my people continued to live on this land as they did for thousands of generations.
But on these waterways, these same waterways that Barangaroo fished, there were changes that came to my people.
Not peaceful changes, not settled and not invited,
What took place was genocide, irreversible trauma.
Poisons not just in our waterholes, but others had in their hands that later became placed in ours.
The trauma and the introductions of new ways of living hasn’t been healthy for all.
And yet as the world’s oldest living culture we are told how we should be and how we should live.
Creating accumulation, rather than needing and sharing.
Despite these traumas and shifts in our way of living, we are still here, still practicing, still inclusive.
Our traditions are varied in our diversity across our lands, our dance, our ceremony and our welcomes.
That continuous link of life, lessons, purpose and nurturing supplies.
Honouring our ancestor’s footsteps we are all walking in, and those prints we are making to become our own ancestors in time.
Continuing the practice of the many generations before us to the many generations to come.
We lived in unison with this land and tell us where our are boundaries are through our continual connection across this continent.
The landscapes of this country tell the stories through our culture, our history and our boundaries.
The Eora nation’s boundaries are the Hawkesbury River to the north, the Nepean River to the west and the Georges River in the south.
On behalf of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, the Elders and the members, I welcome everyone to the Land of the Gadigal.
I acknowledge the Gadigal people, whose spirits and ancestors will always remain with this land, our mother earth.
As you travel across this beautiful continent of ours get to know the nations, the tribes and the clans existing here for over 65,000 years.
My people are the oldest living culture of the world.
It is important to remember and acknowledge the massacres that took place.
All those people who aren’t remembered by name but mourned in our souls, the injustices that continue and the unsung heroes - our warriors.
That has taken place must be owned.
We all need to change the way we treat each other.
Don’t judge on what you think you know but get to know what you don’t.
The cruelty and inhumane treatment to my people needs to be acknowledged.
The rates to be change. Not out of a guilt, but to right the wrongs of the past not to continue to be in our present.
If we don’t, we will never truly create an all-embracing future standing strong, First Nations, all Australians and all nations working together as one community and achieving as one community.
We have hundreds of nations from this continent and from across the globe.
So whether you came here via foot, air or water Aboriginal people are inclusive of everyone, and we welcome all.
It’s about time my people are accepted too.
We must commit to making a positive difference producing a legacy, a complete and an honest history
One word can’t do it.
It’s the behaviour and ownership of the biases, or rather the racism, which continues.
This will then start steps to a future of healing.
Think about the difference you are making today that can be the milestones of the future.
To make that future possible, let us all draw upon my people’s spirits as we continue on our journey.
May my people’s spirits walk with you and guide you as we strive forward for us all.
Before time began, we were here, we have always been and we will remain, regardless of whether you call this Invasion Day, Survival Day or Australia Day.
We need to heal, and we can only do this together.
Again, on behalf of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, welcome to Gadigal land.
This always was – always will be – Aboriginal land.
Thank you and have a wonderful day.