As Reconciliation Week draws to a close, it is timely to remember that “Reconciliation” in whatever form it might take for you, your family, school and organisation, is something that must be kept at the forefront of our minds not just for one week but throughout the year.
Luke Pearson says
“Reconciliation is everyone’s business, and achieving Reconciliation is of benefit to everyone who believes in justice, fairness, human rights, respect and partnership.”
It might surprise many Australians to know a lot of Indigenous people are ambivalent about Reconciliation and Reconciliation Week. As an initiative of the Keating government in the 1990s, Reconciliation began with a bit of a bang. However as time has progressed, as Native Title has not delivered the sovereignty that overturning terra nullius promised, as the racism of many ordinary Australians seems not to have waned, and as the inequities between Australian and Indigenous peoples continue across all the social indicators, Reconciliation as a “movement” or goal is, understandably, not high on the list for many Indigenous Australians.
Mervyn Ah Kee, a Yidinji elder says,
“To me it is some “make you feel good” act for the white folk of our country but it doesn’t nothing for the Indigenous peoples.”
If Indigenous Australians are not “moved” to action over Reconciliation Week, what then should teachers and schools do? Should they celebrate or recognise it? Or should they discard it from their calendars? We would argue no, don’t discard it, but be mindful that Reconciliation is simply one week each year in a lifetime. Remember that what is important is the ongoing critical reflection of one’s own relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and one’s relationship with the ongoing Indigenous sovereignty of this nation.
Like NAIDOC Week, Reconciliation Week is simply a focal point, but it is not everything. What you do, why you think and how you act, during the other 50 weeks of each year is more important.
Continue to recognise Reconciliation Week. But use these seven days to spread the word of Indigenous achievements, visit art galleries, buy and read Indigenous stories, watch Indigenous films, speak and listen to Indigenous people,, learn about the black history of your nation and your community. But most of all, begin or continue the ongoing and lifelong quest/journey, where you learn how to truly acknowledge and recognise the unceded and ongoing sovereignty of Aboriginal peoples across this nation.