‘We need to stop racism’: Hopes festival brings about change
A REALITY with truthful education, togetherness and without racism is what Taribelang Bunda Gooreng Gooreng Traditional Owner Brent McLellen hopes for the future of Australia.
And the upcoming 1770 Cultural Connections Immersion Festival was step towards turning that hope into a reality.
Gidarjil Land and Sea ranger manager and PCCC Tumra manager, Mr McLellan said the festival was of great importance.
“This festival is extremely important as it’s showing the public that after 250 years, our culture is very much so strong,” he said.
“We’re still going full steam ahead, we’re involved in a heap of exciting projects including sea grass monitoring, coral monitoring, water quality monitoring.
“We’re doing traditional fire stick burning and after all these years we are still on our country, caring for our country and looking after our sea country.”
The land and sea rangers will be helping to set up and take down the festival at the 1770 SES Grounds.
Mr McLellan said it was important to educate wider Australia on the history of its First Nations People and educate them with the true history, “not the history that is being told through Queensland educations in schools”.
“Australia has a dark history and it’s up to us as the next leaders of First Nation Australians to educate Australia on the truth and its real history,” he said.
“By holding festivals like this we welcome everyone to it, to learn and to take important information home with them to help towards closing the gap between Australia’s First Nations People and the rest of Australia.”
For Mr McLellan reconciliation is incredibly important for Australia’s future and the next generation.
“We need to stop racism and there may be some out there that don’t even realise that they’re being racist – unknowingly doing things that is offending First Nations People,” he said.
“By coming to these festivals and learning the culture they may learn how to work better together in the future.”
With this being the first festival of this nature held locally, Mr McLellen said they were lucky within the Port Curtis Coral Coast Traditional Owner region to have an organisation like Gidarjil with the resources to carry out a successful major event like the upcoming festival.
Unfortunately, the festival has already been met with some resistance. But it has done nothing to derail the festivities, instead it’s strengthened them.
Mr McLellen and some of the rangers put up signs promoting the festival along Rosedale Rd, up to and around Seventeen Seventy which were unfortunately pulled down.
“Star pickets were knocked on the ground, signs were ripped off their zippy ties and just left there, but we are used to this,” he said.
“If anything it’s our fuel to get up every morning, to continue to practice our very strong and very alive culture.
“And all we can do is continue to hold these extremely important festivals to continue to educate.”
Mr McLellen said he hopes his child grows up to live with a different story of First Nations People.
“I have a nine-year-old daughter and I would like to think by the time that she is my age Australia will be very different when it comes to the story of its First Nations People,” he said.
“That we are teaching the truth in all of our schools around Australia and we are acknowledging the hurt and the suffering that our ancestors did go through and we’re in a stage where we’re mending relationships working in joint partnerships, long into the future.”
Mr McLellen is encouraging all Australians to attend the festival.
“It will be a great day out, it helps the economy of 1770, but it also helps educates wider Australia with the true history of this country,” he said.
The 1770 Cultural Connections Immersion Festival will be held from October 2-3.