Up to 2,000 people gathered at Cosy Corner in Torquay on Wadawurrung Country at sunrise on Thursday 26 January for the inaugural Pilk Purriyn truth-telling event.
Meaning ‘sunrise’ in Wadawurrung language, Pilk Purriyn was hosted by Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation in collaboration with the Surf Coast Shire Council.
The event started with a traditional Welcome to Country, and Smoking and Dancing Ceremonies, followed by Wadawurrung Traditional Owners addressing the gathering about the meaning of 26 January for First Nations people. Then, with the rising of the sun on the water, it concluded with a response from State Member for Geelong Christine Couzens, and Surf Coast Shire Council Mayor Cr Liz Pattison.
With four generations of Wadawurrung people present, Pilk Purriyn was an opportunity for members of all communities to come together, gather, deeply listen and reflect on the Country that they are living on.
The event aimed to support the First Nations community by acknowledging the trauma and harm to the First Peoples through colonisation, by recognising the survival, resilience of their people and culture that continues today.
Wadawurrung woman Corrina Eccles said: “As a Wadawurrung woman it was very brave to hold this event knowing this is something not all people support but if we are going to move forward we need a voice today that our ancestors and Elders were denied.”
“For thousands of years Wadawurrung people started their day with the rising of the sun and today we continue that as we conquer a day that is felt heavily in heart and spirit. It gave us the opportunity for Traditional Owners to stand on our Country to share ceremony and truth-telling with those who choose to not celebrate this day.”
“Seeing up to 2,000 people offer their respect and support this morning shows us that people want to see change and are here to listen.”
Surf Coast Shire Council Mayor Liz Pattison said: “Pilk Purriyn was an incredibly moving event held on Wadawurrung Country, which helped deepen my understanding of First Nations culture and experience.”
“As the Surf Coast Shire Council continues a journey towards Reconciliation with First Nations People, we recognise past wrongs and seek truth, understanding and healing. We want to support Traditional Owners and First Nations People in our community in the spirit of respect, recognition and compassion.”