Maribyrnong council has recognised January 26 as a day of mourning for First Nations people for the first time.
At its meeting on Tuesday, December 6, 2022, Maribyrnong council passed a motion to continue to hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26 with involvement from First Nations people and write to federal government representatives to advocate for them to consider changing the date of the national celebration.
This year also marked the first time the council hosted a smoking ceremony held by a First Nations elder ahead of the council’s citizenship ceremony.
The council also hosted a flag lowering event at the Braybrook Community Hub.
Maribyrnong mayor Sarah Carter said the events were the first step towards a more respectful acknowledgment of the mistreatment of First Nations people.
“This is one way we can help those who are not fully aware of the background to this significant and increasingly mainstream issue, particularly in respect to the experiences of First Nations people, to better understand the stories and appreciate their journey,” she said.
“Council remains committed to continuing to engage, educate and inform around wider issues.”
Justice Action Maribyrnong John Chadderton welcomed the move to include the flag lowering and smoking ceremonies into the day’s proceedings and hoped the next step would be abolishing citizenship ceremonies held on the date.
Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Bill Nicholson Jr conducted a smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country at the Maribyrnong Community Centre ahead of the citizenship ceremony.
He said it was essential to remember the country’s past and look forward to the future.
“Reconciliation is about the ability to listen to each other’s stories,” he said.
“We can be excited for something new.”