First Nations traditions will connect communities to celebrate the world’s oldest surviving culture and create new memories at City of Parramatta’s annual Warami Festival.
The six-week festival kicks off on National Sorry Day, 26 May, with a smoking ceremony, traditional weaving, and performances by soul singer Evie J Willie and Jannawi Dance Clan at Old Government House in Parramatta Park.
Tegan Murdock, proud member of the Barkindtji tribe who runs the weaving workshops, said it’s important to connect people with First Nations traditions on such an emotion-filled day.
“National Sorry Day is a day of heartache, but also gratitude,” Ms Murdock said.
“Events like Warami are amazing – it’s so special to welcome the broader community and share our First Nations culture. Weaving has been used as a way of healing by my ancestors for thousands of years. It’s a way to start conversations and break down barriers between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
“Growing up, we were made to feel being Aboriginal was a bad thing by the white community. Now, I hold weaving workshops for kids who tell me they want to be like me when they grow up. It’s heart-warming to hear. Finally, my people are allowed to be proud, and I’m so grateful.”
City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Donna Davis said Warami, now in its fourth year, honours the arts, music, languages and connection to the land of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“Warami is Dharug for ‘good to see you’ – and the festival is all about celebrating and developing a stronger understanding of indigenous traditions and stories directly from our local First Nations community,” Cr Davis said.
“The event brings people together to enjoy First Nations music, art, and dance. The Burramattagal people have called Parramatta home for thousands of years, and Warami recognises and celebrates this powerful connection.”
This year’s National Reconciliation Week, which runs from 27 May to 3 June, explores the theme, ‘Be Brave. Make Change.’ The theme recognises that First Nations people are the traditional owners of the land and acknowledges the unfinished business of reconciliation.
On Saturday 28 May, Yuin Byalla (‘truth talking’), a panel discussion curated by Indigenous X at Riverside Theatres, offers a glimpse into First Nations conversations around reconciliation.
Riverside Theatres will also host a series of events to celebrate NAIDOC week, which runs from 3-10 July. On Wednesday 6 July, there will be a free screening of Wash My Soul in the River’s Flow, a feature documentary about the lives and love story of Ruby Hunter and Archie Roach. That will be followed by a screening of Ablaze, the true story of first Aboriginal filmmaker William Bill Onus, on Saturday 9 July.
Kids can get an insight into First Nations storytelling and song in a series of free children’s workshops with Koori Kinnections for 7 to 12-year-olds at Parramatta Square on 2 and 3 July.
Warami wraps up on Sunday 10 July with NAIDOC Burramatta at Pavilion Flat, Parramatta Park from 10.30am to 5pm. This family friendly event celebrates this year’s theme ‘Get Up! Stand Up! Show up!’ with kids’ workshops, market stalls, food and performances, including ARIA-award winning R&B star Budjerah.