Woodford Bay Reconciliation Memorial Ceremony
'Journey of the Spirit '
1.30pm for 2pm, Saturday, 7 February, 2003
Speech by Kerrie McKenzie representing Lane Cove Residents For Reconciliation
I wish first to acknowledge Cameraygal country; and the spirits of the Ancestors.
I acknowledge and thank the Dignitaries here today; and the Elders, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal;
Special Guests; and everyone here for attending and contributing to this most important Memorial
Ceremony - 'Journey of the Spirit'.
I would like to give formal thanks to Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC, Governor of NSW and to Robert Welsh, Chairperson, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council - for jointly unveiling this most historic Reconciliation Memorial Plaque, giving public acknowledgement of Aboriginal resistance to British invasion.
During the Hundred Years' War, British troops stationed in Australia between 1788 and 1888, saw
more combat than troops in any other British colony, except South Africa. This is our untold story. Today's event is a landmark in the truth-telling of our shared Australian history and in the process of the journey towards Reconciliation.
This rock and plaque are local history made visible. We hope such monuments will become part of local landscapes all over Australia; for showing recognition of our history is essential to understanding it. Invisibility does not enlighten us.
I wish to thank the Performers of Ceremony here today - Uncle Max Eulo, Matthew Doyle and the Garrabarra Dance Company.
It has been explained to me that, although Performers of Ceremony may be removed from the land, the Ceremony itself, can never be removed. It is always there within the land, waiting to be sung-up again. The beautiful logo of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council depicts that same spirit, that same ceremony – still in existence today, even beneath the concrete of the city of Sydney.
Here at Woodford Bay, after two centuries, we have all witnessed and shared in the experience of the singing-up of the Ceremony and of the Spirit of this land – this Cameraygal land.
Aboriginal Australians belong to the oldest, continuous, living culture in the world; cultures and knowledge of this land to celebrate and enrich us all; for 99.9% of the human history of Australia is Aboriginal history.
Australia is the only former British colony in which no agreement nor treaty was enacted with the people.
It was invaded and colonised on the myth of Terra Nullius – 'land belonging to no-one'. Every non-Aboriginal Australian, whether they, or their family, have been here for just two months, or for over two hundred years, has benefited from the dispossession of Aboriginal Australians.
We stand today in Cameraygal country, within the Eora Nation. In the spirit of Reconciliation, we move forward; working together for social justice; the inherent rights of Aboriginal Australians as First Peoples, First Nations of this continent; and the healing of our nation. We can then one day, all walk together as Australians, with dignity, on this sacred land.
As the Vision Statement of the Council for Reconciliation offers:
'A united Australia which respects this land of ours; values the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander heritage; and provides justice and equity for all.'
On behalf of Lane Cove Council, the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Lane Cove Historical Society and Lane Cove Residents for Reconciliation, I thank you all for being here today.
Kerrie McKenzie, Convenor, Lane Cove Residents for Reconciliation 7 February 2004