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“Open your eyes, open your minds, open your hearts, and fucking listen”  

Invasion day began with a 05:20 dawn reflection where a First Nations artwork created by Rhonda Sampson was reflected on the Opera House. Rhonda Sampson, a Kamilaroi artist, has described her work as a reflection of the rich history of the Tubowgule land, which is the site in which the Opera House stands. 

The WugulOra (One Mob) morning ceremony commenced at 0730 at Barangaroo Reserve. This was the 20th consecutive year the smoking ceremony was performed on the morning of Invasion Day. The ceremony is a cleansing ritual that celebrates new beginnings through music, dance, language and storytelling of the Gadigal people. 

At Belmore Park at 9:30 am the Invasion day rally occurred with over a thousand participants. 

Gwenda Stanley, a Gomeroi women and a co-organiser of Sydney’s rally, said the main message for this year’s rally would be “sovereignty before voice.” 

The rally’s stance on the referendum led to some individuals boycotting the rally because they believe the voice to parliament is an important part of the Uluru statement. 

Through the grassroots story telling method, speakers spoke of the myriad of issues facing First Nations peoples such as deaths in custody, the Stolen Generations, land rights and the destructive capital greed of mining companies. Their anger towards western institutions that promised them justice was echoed by the crowd’s chants of ‘no justice, no peace’. 

10,000 protesters pour out of Belmore Park and onto closed inner Sydney roads. Source: Tharunka

Lizzie Jarret, of the Gumbaynggirr, Bundjalung, Dunghutti clans, reminded the crowd before each speech to “open your eyes, open your minds, open your hearts, and fucking listen.” This was a reminder to the crowds to be respectful to what each speaker was saying.  

Their perspective on the referendum for an aboriginal voice in parliament is driven by distrust in a Eurocentric system. As Indigenous people never ceded their sovereignty, the rally’s organizers do not recognize the constitution. They emphasized that a voice in parliament will not produce actionable change because it does not have any substantiative power.  

 They did not recognise the constitution, they stated, as they never ceded their sovereignty and that the referendum therefore is meaningless change. 

Stanley views the referendum that the federal government has called as a waste of money and believes it could be better spent on supporting Indigenous communities. She said, “the main message for us to deliver [at the rally] is that, for a lot of us, we are not for the Voice, we are for sovereignty. It’s about our self-determination as Aboriginal people, as original sovereigns of this country.” 

They encouraged individuals to listen to their stories and open their minds and hearts to the messages they were sending. 

The same view was brought to rallies across the country.  

Editor: Alex Neale


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