Maitland’s NAIDOC Week celebrations kicked off with a bang this year with the opening of a yarning circle at East Maitland Public School on Tuesday.
The yarning circle is an outdoor learning space that pays tribute to the Wonnarua People, the traditional owners of the land the school sits on.
The circle was officially opened by Wonnarua elder Uncle Warren.
The school’s event also included other activities such as dancing, Aboriginal food tasting, art, face painting and games.
All 580 students were involved in the festivities, which Aboriginal Education Coordinator Kirran Gurr said was an important theme of the day.
“There was a focus on Aboriginal culture, but it was inclusive for all, no matter what culture you have,” she said.
“It’s part of what makes us who we are.
“It’s about pushing together for a common cause.”
The NAIDOC celebrations continue across Maitland next week with a number of events to recognise the history, culture, successes and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the community.
Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council is leading the celebrations with key events including the Celebration of Existence March from Maitland Court House to Maitland Town Hall on Tuesday, followed by the Coquun Cup Youth Touch Football Day at Blackhill Oval, Maitland Park from 11.30am.
Then on Wednesday night from 6-9pm, there is a children’s disco at Mindaribba, before a huge Family Fun Day on Thursday from 10.30am to 2.30pm at Metford Recreational Reserve.
Closebourne Village and It Must Be Morpeth will also gather at Closeborne Village to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on Wednesday from 9.30am. Wakakulang Aboriginal Dance will perform and there will be several activities followed by a barbecue lunch.
Maitland City Council is supporting the celebrations with funding through the 2018/19 Community Grants Program.
Maitland Mayor Loretta Baker said NAIDOC Week was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and share in the history and culture of our nation’s first people.
“This year’s theme of NAIDOC Week ‘Because of Her, We Can!’ celebrates the essential role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played - and continue to play - as active and significant role models and leaders at the community, local, state and national levels,” she said.
NAIDOC Week runs from July 8-15.