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Indigenous people dancing in traditional dress on the beach.
Photograph: Supplied

Things to do this Reconciliation Week on Gadigal land

Recognising this land's First Nations people, the colonised history of this nation, and the fact that sovereignty was never ceded

By Divya Venkataraman and Alannah Maher

Reconciliation Week starts on May 27, the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, and runs to Mabo Day on June 3, the day the High Court of Australia recognised the land rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This year's theme, 'More than a word. Reconciliation takes action', urges all Australians to take braver, more impactful steps on the journey towards justice. There are 'official' events dotted around Sydney in honour of Reconciliation Week, but you can also mark the occasion by attending one of the many stellar First Nations-produced theatre, art and music shows and performances taking place around the city. Here are our picks. 

Recommended: Where to see Aboriginal art in Sydney

a painting of a First Nations rights march with colourful placards
Photograph: Milani Gallery © Richard Bell | detail of ‘Immigration Policy’, 2017, Richard Bell

You Can Go Now

Things to do Exhibitions Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks

Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman and Gurang Gurang man Richard Bell is one of Australia’s most impactful contemporary artists and dedicated activists, a force for First Nations rights forged under the under the oppressive Bjelke-Petersen regime in Queensland, and then in Redfern. His illustrious 30-year career to date will be celebrated by expansive new exhibition You Can Go Now, hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) with whom he has enjoyed an ongoing relationship.


Artwork depicting First Nations pioneer Fanny Balbuk on the $50 note
Photograph: Unsettled ©AbramPowell, Australian Museum | Detail of Blood Money, 2011, Ryan Presley


Things to do Exhibitions Australian Museum, Darlinghurst

The Australian Museum will celebrate First Nations culture in astounding new show Unsettled. Looking back on this country's untold history, the free exhibition reiterates that this land was never ceded. It interrogates the lasting impacts of colonisation and the denial of Indigenous sovereignty. Contemporary First Nations artists including Charlotte Allingham (Coffin Birth), Ryan Presley, Tony Albert, Jai Darby Walker and Danie Mellor reveal the hidden stories of devastation, survival, resilience and the fight for recognition. Their first-hand accounts are presented through long-hidden historical documents, large-scale artworks, immersive experiences and never-before-seen objects from the Australian Museum collections and beyond.

People walking around
Photograph: Supplied/Kitti Gould

Reconciliation Week at South Eveleigh

There’s a whole lot going on in the new South Eveleigh precinct, which, before it became home to some of the city’s buzziest eateries and bars, was an important site of cultural and historical significance for First Nations communities. To commemorate that history, Nadeena Dixon, artist, master weaver and educator, will run a language workshop on June 1, which highlights First Nations people’s connection to Country. Book your tickets hereAlso at South Eveleigh is a Mobile Education Centre which will relay the stories of the Stolen Generations through their own voices. The concept, first created by the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation as part of its ‘survivor-led approach’ to governance and healing, will shed light on the devastating effects of the systematic removal of children from their families. It follows the creed that “without truth telling, there can be no healing.” Sessions run at 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm on Thursday, May 27. 

People in a group and in First Nations dress
Photograph: Supplied

Different Colours One People Festivals

With two separate events being held in Glebe and Redfern on Saturday May 29, the Different Colours One People Festivals showcase the artistry of First Nations, Pacific, Caribbean, African American and people of colour communities. The festival aims to build relationships and greater understanding. You can BYO food and rug to enjoy a picnic on the lawn or browse the food and fete stalls. Entry is free but numbers are limited and all attendees must register. Lock in your spot for the Glebe event here and Redfern event here.

Boy with his head out of a window
Photograph: Supplied/In My Blood it Runs

'In My Blood it Runs' Film Screening

Award-winning observational documentary In My Blood It Runs follows ten-year-old Dujuan, an Aboriginal boy struggling to balance his traditional Arrernte/Garrwa upbringing with western style state education as he grows up in Alice Springs. Dujuan is a child-healer, a good hunter and speaks three languages. As he shares his wisdom of history and the complex world around him we see his spark and intelligence. Yet Dujuan is ‘failing’ in school and facing increasing scrutiny from welfare and the police. This free screening is hosted in the Y Space, a pop-up youth space inside Westfield Parramatta. This screening is free for young people aged 15-24 and runs from 4pm to 5.45pm on Tuesday, June 1. Register here.

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