Thousands of Aboriginal people mainly from Melbourne and their allies gathered at the Kings Domain in Melbourne for the second "Invasion Day Dawn Service."
The event was convened by Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman Lidia Thorpe, a former Greens MP. In her opening statement she said the very first act of war in Australia was an act of war against Aboriginal people.
Echoing Aunty Di Kerr who‘d led the Welcome to Country ceremony a little earlier Lidia Thorpe said that today, 250 years after the invasion, war hasn’t ended on First Nations peoples.
“Our people have been locked up, killed in prison, children taken away, our land and water completely destroyed. So it is not just genocide. It is also ecocide of our environment, of our totems, of our Songlines. Almost a complete annihilation of our people.”
The former Greens MP added that having Aboriginal people walking and practicing culture and song is a testament to Aboriginal resilience and survival but this cannot be done by Aboriginal people alone.
She welcomed allies’ participation and solidarity adding that we are ultimately all in the struggle together.
“Our Mother is crying for help. Our Mother is our land, our Mother is our water and earth and she has been crying for a long time. And you are all starting to see how angry she is.”
The Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman added that Aboriginal people have the solutions to heal our Mother and they want to share that. The Dawn Service is one way of sharing.
“It is coming together on our Day of Mourning and sharing some of the load that we carry with us every single day. That load of trauma, of anxiety…”
After the opening speeches Aboriginal elders and delegates from all corners of Victoria and as far afield as Lutriwita (Tasmania) and Noongar country (WA) came forward to read the names of known victims of Frontier Wars and colonial massacres including the dates, places and names of the perpetrators.
The proceeding ended with a healing smoking ceremony in which all the attendees participated.