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Here's How Indigenous Australians Celebrated Australia Day

Protests, concerts and healing ceremonies marked Invasion and Survival Day 2016.

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Across the country, Indigenous people have marked Australia Day with a mixture of celebrations, protests, rallies and festivals.

Instagram: @jessicamauboy1

Organisers of Australia Day celebrations in Sydney promised more of an Indigenous influence this year.

The day started off with the WugulOra, meaning 'one mob' in Gadigal, ceremony to recognise the traditional owners connection to the land.

Aboriginal pop star Jessica Mauboy sang the national anthem in a mixture of Aboriginal language and English while the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag were raised with the Australian flag on the Harbour Bridge.

The Aboriginal flag joins the Aus flag above the Harbour Bridge today. Makes you wonder why its not always there?

Across New South Wales thousands of protestors, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, marched through city streets calling for greater recognition of past injustices.

Allan Clarke / BuzzFeed

In Sydney, a rally organised by the Indigenous Social Justice Association and the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy attracted around a thousand protesters who marched down George Street to the Sydney Town Hall.

Elder Ken Canning, one of the organisers, told BuzzFeed News that, "January 26 is not a day to celebrate. It's a day to commemorate our ancestors and to say we have never ceded sovereignty."

Canning says the march was a way of paying tribute to the group of Aboriginal people who on Australia Day in 1938 declared January 26 a day of mourning.

"This is a day of mourning and we are honouring our dead.


Hundreds of Survival Day events took place around the country.

Allan Clarke / BuzzFeed

The Yabun concert in Sydney's Victoria Park attracted thousands with the aim of celebrating the strength of the Indigenous community.

A corroboree ground saw Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders perform traditional dances from across the country while the main stage featured several popular Indigenous singers.

The sun's out and @YabunFestival is the place to be #yabun2016

Kareng woman Karen Wright and Noongar elder Linda Jackson made the journey from Perth to attend the event.

Allan Clarke / BuzzFeed

"We are proud to be here. It's amazing seeing all the other nations here to celebrate the day with us too. We have a long way to go but we'll get there," Jackson said, happy to see non-indigenous people joining the celebration.

"Survival Day to me means how far we've come and survived after all the years of being oppressed by white European settlement. They tried to wipe us out but we're still surviving. I'm proud to be a black Australia, all the way from Western Australia," Wright told BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed News asked several Indigenous people what the day meant to them.


"To me firstly it's Invasion Day, which means I am practicing 'lest we forget' remembering the ancestors who shed their blood in defence of their land. Then it's Survival Day." - Elizabeth Wymarra

"Australia Day means a lot to my people, Australia Day is a time for people to come together and for forgetting about all the hardships we've had to go through." – Blake Whittaker.

"A lot of my family take it as a day of mourning. A part of me does as well, but I take it as a day of how far our culture has come. We're still here, we're still strong and still connected." - Larteasha Griffen.