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Canberra Convergence: We need to keep on moving forward

by Lara Pullin(MurriBlog)
Well, I knew things would go well when the first women I spoke to on the way to the sacred fire were Aunty Ellie Gilbert and Barbara Shaw (left), inspiring campaigner against the intervention and organiser of the bus from Central Australia. Today was a successful day by anyone's measures - the National Aboriginal Alliance meeting stretched well beyond the allocated time - a dedicated team of volunteers are still working on typing the minutes and finalising business. A great feeling of solidarity and strength pervades. There is consensus and resolution that it is time to move forward - and that Unity is the key.

The procedings were chaired by Uncle Les Malezer of FAIRA, our representative at the United Nations, Chairperson of the Global Indigenous Caucus.

We commenced with a Welcome to Land by Aunty Isobelle Coe, a founding Tent Embassy campaigner who emphasized that "we are 36 years old, and we are here to stay". To a rousing applause. Aunty Isobelle continued "We need to keep on moving forward. We don't want to be here still in another 36 years demanding a proper apology - but if needs be we will be. If not me then my little granchildren who are growing up visiting the Embassy, they will continue to carry this struggle forward." To an even more enthusiastic response.

Then invited guest of honor, Nelson Davila, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela's diplomatic representative in Australia, spoke of the past 500 years of Indigenous resistance in the Americas. The Empires - Spanish Empire in the case of Latin America, Portuguese Empire to Brazil and the Pacific, and British Empire to USA and Australia. All had the same tactic of genocide. Seeking expanded lands and natural wealth to exploit, more than 30 million Indigenous people were slaughtered on the continent of Latin America. It is the same struggle globally for all Indigenous peoples, as Imperialism continues to seek new riches, new sources of wealth. It is only a definitive break with Imperialism and the capitalist economic model explained Davila, that has allowed the restitution of true sovereign land rights.
Explaining what this actually means Davila said it includes a
guaranteed voice in every legislature as fundamental. And the economic basis of sovereignty being guaranteed as part of the national budget. A complete and conscious commitment to eradicate racism, by way of both education and replacing exploitation and competition in society with cooperative economic models. "But most important ", said Davila,"is keeping language and culture alive, Traditional language, song and dance, ceremony". Davila said we must never forget that the struggle is a global struggle for Indigenous sovereignty, never ceeded. This inspirational example of Venezuela, where there is the genuine political will to back sovereignty, was very in tune with the positive vibes and unity of the meeting.

Tomorrow will see even more arrivals for Tuesday's convergence. Many folk in Canberra have generously opened their homes to take in billets for this historic event. Tonight thousands of paper bags and candles are being organised for tomorrow nights vigil. Apology actually does come too late for so many who have already gone before us. But we remember and honor them, and they live on. So I'll take some more photos and will post more news after visiting the Embassy in the morning.

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