A day for insight into world’s oldest living culture
AMID the sadness of today Quandamooka man Joshua Walker believes there is opportunity for sharing of culture and healing
"We did the welcoming of new immigrants to Australia this morning and it's good to welcome people to Australia," Mr Walker said.
"It's good to give them exposure to local culture. A lot of people know we are the oldest living culture in the world so it's really good for the new Aussies to get a bit of an insight into local culture."
Mr Walker, the grandson of poet and activist Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) said "as my grandmother said we want integration not assimilation".
"Sharing culture is about reconciliation and of course there will be people who will struggle today," he said.
"Today represents the beginning of the destruction of our culture and way of life as we knew it but it is also a time for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to come together on the common ground … the more we share the better we will be."
Heading back to Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) to spend the day with family, Mr Walker said "obviously for a lot of first nations people today is a day to reflect on the bad things - it's a sad day".
But being part of today's Redlands Coast citizenship ceremony Mr Walker said was an incredible opportunity to create understanding.
"It is crucially important that new Aussies have a good understanding of our culture - a lot of our Aboriginal families fought under the Australia flag - my grandmother's brothers were prisoners of war in Singapore," he said.
"Considering why it (today) is a such a sensitive day hopefully will help it be resolved and maybe we can talk about another day … I think it would be a positive thing to have a reconciliation day."
Mr Walker said many Australians, if they considered their own stories as Irish and Scottish decendents and as English people sent to Australia for the smallest of crimes, like stealing a loaf of bread, would discover a greater connection to the oppression of Aboriginal people.
His contribution to the Aboriginal culture of the Redlands Coast by sharing his knowledge through talks, song and dance as well as contributing the restoring of Jandai - the language of Quandamooka Country - was recognised at a special Australia Day Awards ceremony this week.
He received the Reconciliation Award for his commitment to cultural pursuits.