The British Empire declared the first war on these shores – a war that continues today and targets First Nations children, women, men, land and water. In the wake of the Queen’s death, now the colonising force is asking First Nations people to kneel with their hands on their hearts?
By Lidia Thorpe
News of the Queen’s death broke on the same day as my cousin’s funeral. My cousin, like more than 500 First Nations people in the last 30 years alone, died in custody. I was notified today of another death in custody.
The institutions that British colonisation brought here, from the education that erases us to the prisons that kill us, are designed to destroy the oldest living culture in the world. That’s the legacy of the Crown in this Country.
The “British Empire” declared the first war on these shores, against this country’s First Nations peoples. This led to massacres. They buried our babies and kicked off their heads. And you want a minute’s silence from me?
Their war continues today and targets our children, our men, our land, our water, the air we breathe. Yet we’re meant to kneel to the colonising force with our hands on our hearts?
It is insulting that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has called the September 22 public holiday a “National Day of Mourning for Her Majesty The Queen,” when First Nations people have called for January 26 to be acknowledged as a Day of Mourning since 1938.
We called for a Day of Mourning so that this country could understand how we’re still impacted by colonisation today. We’re not grieving a singular human life, we’re reeling from the violence that comes with the power and control the monarchy continues to have over this country.
Who gave permission for our flag to be lowered to half-mast? That power has been taken away from us, again.
Our young people are turning to suicide, because they don’t see a future for themselves in the systems the monarchy created in this country.
I’m writing this in solidarity with First Nations people who are triggered by the glorification of our oppressor, to the mothers who will have to listen to people grieving the Queen while living in fear of their babies being stolen and our kids who will have to pay their respects at school despite the British Empire’s genocide.
Colonial governments are complicit in continuing the genocide against First Nations people because that is the agenda of the coloniser against First Nations people around the world. To think that people can stand and celebrate that is ignorant and painful.
First Nations people are proud, Sovereign people. The British Empire tried to wipe us out, but they failed. We are still here and we have an opportunity to do things differently in this country.
The “demise of the Crown” comes with the opportunity to listen to grassroots First Nations people, who are telling the truth about the monarchy in this country.
Breaking the cycle of colonial oppression starts with truth telling, and truth listening. Understanding that this is our shared heritage will help us move forward and heal this country.
Truth telling holds up a mirror to our society and asks: who are we? Where are we coming from, and where do we want to be?
Do we want to be a nation who can’t control our own affairs? Where our head of state is whoever was born into the right family? Do we want to champion stolen wealth and privilege, or are we a country that cares about equality and democracy?
We’re one of the only Commonwealth countries that doesn’t have a Treaty with First Nations people.
Treaty is an end to the war. It’s when we come together to negotiate how we can live alongside each other, peacefully. Treaty will create a new national identity, that we can all feel proud of and a part of.
If we want to mature as a nation, the only mechanism to truly unite us is to Treaty.
We are better than our oppressors. Join us, in creating a nation that we can all celebrate. We can stop the systemic oppression that continues every day in our lives. We demand a peace Treaty.
Come on this journey with us.
Lidia Thorpe is a Gunnai Gunditjmara woman and the Australian Greens’ spokesperson on First Nations and the Republic.
This article first appeared in the Guardian.
Hero image: Julian Meehan.