JANUARY 26 is not a proud day for everyone, for some it marks a day of mourning.
Australia’s history offers two distinctly different stories and to ask the descendants of the oldest continuous culture on Earth is to hear a story of survival.
For the first time Anaiwan people will mark Survival Day with an event at the Armidale Community Garden.
Gomeroi man Rob Waters said that in working toward reconciliation, Australia still had a long way to come.
“January 26 marked the start of pretty horrific times for Aboriginal people – genocide happened within this country,” he said.
“As Aboriginal people see it, it’s marking the start of an invasion, but by calling it Survival Day for myself it means we acknowledge it and we acknowledge the tenacity of Aboriginal people to be able to go through all of that and still be here.
“We’re still here fighting, we’re still here practicing culture on our country – despite all the attempts for us not to be here.”
The Survival Day event will include traditional dance, smoking ceremonies, a yarn circle, food and market stalls.
A smoking ceremony is a cleansing practice that Aboriginal people have used for thousands of years.
“When people come together in big groups we bring different energies and spirits with us,” Mr Waters said.
“We use them at big gatherings, before towns existed we’d cross over into someone else’s country, we’d wait on the border and light a fire that told them we were coming.
“It’s a welcome to country as well.”
Mr Waters said that anybody was welcome to join the event and learn about Aboriginal culture.
"People who want to celebrate Australia Day can go ahead, just acknowledge that we are doing what we want to do, we’re still here, we’re a thorn in their sides because we won’t go away,” he said.
“It’s Survival Day for a reason, we survived, we’re still surviving and we’re the oldest surviving culture on the planet.
“We’ve been here since time immemorial.”
The event will take place at the Armidale Community Garden on Mossman Street, January 26 from 3pm.