Photo: Lilly Latu and Ferdie Bell using clapsticks

The Onerwal Local Aboriginal Land Council hosted a beautiful NAIDOC week ceremony on Monday, July 4 followed by morning tea and children’s activities inside Soldiers’ Memorial Hall.

“In language” welcome message spoken by Tyhan Bell with Elder Lillian Bell and Scott Bell

Ngunnawal traditional owner Sonia Shea nee Bell did the Welcome to Country, Elders Lillian and Brad Bell raised the Aboriginal flag, and Scott Bell performed the smoking ceremony.

Harriette,Bella and Callum Hofman-Haines, Charlotte and Chloe Taber

Locals may have noticed the usual NAIDOC flags in the main street are missing this year. Yass Valley Council announced last week they decided to order new flags after the old flags were starting to fade, however, they didn’t arrive in time.

The Aboriginal flag outside Yass Soldiers’ Memorial Hall and another outside Council’s Chambers and the Visitor Information Centre can still be seen.

There are also two NAIDOC-themed art activities at Yass Library and a trip to the National Museum of Australia to see Connection, an exhibition of Indigenous art and culture. Check out the Council’s site for more information.

Charlotte Taber, 12, put her music skills to work after the morning ceremony to DJ a dance party. She came up with the idea for a dance party and spent some time over the last two weeks getting a playlist ready. The young DJ listens to music all the time and Charlotte said it’s a passion of hers.

Welcome to country by Traditional Ngunnawal owner Sonia Shea, standing with granddaughter Charlotte Taber (DJ for Dance party) her sister Chloe Taber and mother Rachel Taber

Ngunnawal traditional owner Sonia Shea nee Bell welcomed everybody to Ngunnawal land. Although she doesn’t currently live in Yass, Sonia still has a strong connection to the community.

Sonia said the NAIDOC week theme this year was ‘Get Up, Stand Up, Show Up’.

“Basically, that’s about reflecting and having all of the past histories of all Aboriginal people, in particular for us our Ngunnawal country, for everybody to stand up and be part of the move into making sure that we have the same rights as all other Australians.”

“I think the main focus [this NAIDOC Week] would be for us to be one community not two communities,” Sonia said. “To understand and respect the Ngunnawal traditional owners and all Aboriginal peoples.”

Scott Bell performing the smoking ceremony

“It’s not a hard job or task. It’s just getting to know your local community and working together side by side.”

“Because together, we can achieve lots of different outcomes for Aboriginal people.”

Towards the end of NAIDOC Week the Onerwal Local Aboriginal Land Council is holding a dinner and presentation at the Yass Soldiers Club at 6pm on Friday, July 8.

Sonia said everybody’s invited and the event is for the whole community to celebrate NAIDOC Week and enjoy a meal together. It’s a family event so children are more than welcome.

Didgeridoo player 12 year old Tahlen Bell

All attendees simply purchase their meal and drinks themselves and can listen to a presentation about NAIDOC Week, Aboriginal people, and their history.

By Jasmin Jones & Brianna O’Rourke