“January 26 is actually a day of mourning. Our people have been protesting against this since 1888. In 1938 William Cooper asked for this day to be recognised as a Day of Mourning.” - Lidia Thorpe
On January 26 Lidia Thorpe will lead Invasion Day Dawn Service, an ANZAC Day-style event paying tribute to Aboriginal men and women, from what is now known as Victoria, who were killed during the Frontier Wars or colonial massacres.
A key feature of the event will consist of reading out the massacres that occurred, who committed those crimes and the people who died as a result of those crimes; where they took place and when they took place.
Lidia Thorpe says a lot of research has been done on these massacres and the truth needs to be told.
“It is real and it is part of truth-telling and it is something that more Australians need to know about, acknowledge and reparate as a result.”
If there is a time to light a fire and reflect and heal it is the 26th of January
When asked about why this ceremony is held on a day when we are meant to be celebrating what makes us Australians, Lidia Thorpe retorted that this definition was imposed by colonisers.
“January 26 is actually a day of mourning. Our people have been protesting against this since 1888. In 1938 William Cooper asked for this day to be recognised as a Day of Mourning.”
The former Greens MP says that the Invasion Day Dawn Service aims to bring people together and provide a better understanding. She adds, if there is a time to light a fire and reflect and heal it is the 26th of January.
“The more people do these dawn services, or some kind of healing ceremonies with a mourning aspect to it, the more wider Australia will observe and listen and learn and hopefully change their minds and stand with Indigenous people to fix what we’ve been calling for for a long time.”
’Pay the Rent’ is reasonable, rational and responsible. It is a way of ensuring the survival of the oldest living culture in the world
Lidia Thorpe also reiterated that commemorating Invasion Day Dawn Service is different from the call to change the date.
“We do not want to kick the can down the road and say let’s change the date. Because once we change the date I know that we’ll still have people saying, 'you know we've changed the date so what else are they complaining about?'”
“We need to address what the 26th of January actually means. It means dispossession. It means invasion. Changing the date does not address those issues.”
Lydia Thorpe also announced that “Pay the Rent” is the theme of this year’s Invasion Day commemorations in Melbourne.
“It is a theme that the National Aboriginal and Islander Health Organisation came up with in the very early 70’s already, to have real self-determination for our people.”
“’Pay the Rent’ is reasonable, rational and responsible. It is a way of ensuring the survival of the oldest living culture in the world.”