Arts & Culture

Smoking Ceremony to mark the start of Reconciliation Week

Published: 18 Jun 2019 4:23pm

In a strong sign of Wagga Wagga City Council’s commitment to reconciliation, a traditional Wiradjuri Smoking Ceremony will be held throughout the Civic Centre on Monday 27 May.

The ceremony will mark the start of Reconciliation Week and will be held ahead of the National Sorry Day service later that morning.

The Smoking Ceremony is a ritual of purification and unity and will be conducted by Wiradjuri community member Peter Ingram. He will start in the Civic Centre forecourt from 9am and move around the perimeter of the building before going through the arcade.

From 11am, the National Sorry Day ceremony will be held at the Sorry Rock near the Civic Theatre. The monument – a large rock cradling a commemorative plaque – was unveiled at last year’s Sorry Day ceremony.

National Sorry Day is an event remembering the historical mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The day provides a chance for people to come together in the healing process for the Stolen Generations who were forcibly removed from their family and communities.

Held annually since 1998, National Sorry Day was born out of a key recommendation made by the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families in the Bringing Them Home Report that was tabled in Federal Parliament on 26 May 1997.

The annual Sorry Day commemorations have helped to remind and raise awareness among politicians, policy makers, and the wider public about the significance of the forcible removal policies and the impact that they have had not just on the children that were taken, but also on their families and communities.

The intergenerational impact of the forcible removal policies on young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander citizens in the 21st Century have been profound, and the commemoration of National Sorry Day each year helps contribute towards a broader ongoing effort toward healing and social and emotional wellbeing for individuals, families and communities across the country.