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Mayor of Lane Cove Council's Speech

 

Woodford Bay Reconciliation Memorial Ceremony
'Journey of the Spirit '

1.30pm for 2pm, Saturday, 7 February, 2003

Speech by Lane Cove Mayor, Clr. John May

 

Before I start, I would like to thank Charles (Chicka) Madden, an Eora Elder, with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, for the Welcome to the Country.

In addition, I would like to personally acknowledge that we meet today on Aboriginal land and I would like to pay my respects to the Cameraygal people, who like ourselves, treasured these beautiful lands that we today

call Lane Cove.

I'd also like to acknowledge the Aboriginal Elders here today as well as welcome –

  • Her Excellency, Professor Marie Bashir AC, Governor of NSW,
  • Chairperson of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Robert Welsh,
  • Lane Cove State MP Anthony Roberts
  • Representatives from Lane Cove Residents for Reconciliation, Lane Cove Historical Society, Lane Cove Council including General Manager Peter Brown and my fellow Councillors,
  • Lane Cove church and religious groups,
  • the Media and
  • supporters and children from and beyond Lane Cove.

Welcome and thank you for attending and supporting this historic Reconciliation event. This Reconciliation Memorial Plaque, I believe, provides balance to our shared local and national history through its assertion of the truth.

It is the third plaque to be placed here; the previous two present the non-Aboriginal view which relates to colonisation. Today's plaque acknowledges the original inhabitants of the land and their resistance to British invasion.

Along with this historic acknowledgement, today's ceremony has included a very moving, spiritual component of smoke, song and dance. I feel making that spiritual connection helps to bring a sense of peace and completion to what was a very sad episode in our history.

It is significant that we as a community were here to be part of the sacred ceremony and I thank the performers - Uncle Max Eulo, Matthew Doyle and the Garrabarra Dance Company for taking us through it.

There is sadness in our reflections, but I'm encouraged and uplifted by the tremendous support shown for today's event and am especially delighted to see the children here. It is important to involve our children, so that they may carry on with the reconciliation process, based on these shared foundations.

Lane Cove Council's commitment to Reconciliation is strong. We are supporters of today's event and have assisted in its co-ordination. We have also organised many other Reconciliation events and initiatives.

Our Reconciliation processes have received national recognition, been highly commended in the 2003 Metro Pride Awards and been cited by NSW Education as examples of best practise. Some of our key initiatives include:

  • Naming our spring festival the "Cameraygal Festival" after the traditional owners of these lands
  • Organising the Children's Voices of Reconciliation event in Lane Cove Plaza. This annual event involves all Lane Cove schools in conjunction with Aboriginal children from an inner city school.
  • We have a significant collection of books and videos on topics related to Indigenous studies and Reconciliation in our libraries.
  • We are vigilant in identifying and respecting Aboriginal heritage within our boundaries
  • And we fly the Aboriginal flag alongside the Australian flag at all significant Aboriginal events
  • Also, Lane Cove Council has contributed to and endorsed the Northern Sydney Aboriginal Social Plan, and has placed a plaque in the Plaza, acknowledging prior Aboriginal ownership.

But of course, today's event takes our involvement that one step further. Today, we have joined with the Governor of NSW and other organisations to formally recognise our history from a shared perspective.

On behalf of Lane Cove Council, and all those involved in today's unveiling, I thank you for coming here with open hearts. May this gathering, and this ceremony, lead the way forward on the process of Reconciliation.

Today, we have taken a big step. It's a step towards healing the past through acknowledgment and healing is always a forward step.

Now, it is my honour to call on Kerrie McKenzie, Convenor of the Lane Cove Residents for Reconciliation, to conduct the Close of Ceremony address.