Participants in the Run Sweat Inspire Festival will receive a finishers medal designed by Indigenous Marathon Project Graduate #87 and Aboriginal artist Shane Cook. He reflected on his own personal journey to develop the design, with the circles representing the ripple effect that the Indigenous Marathon Foundation has across the country. Image supplied.

Although official NAIDOC Week celebrations, originally scheduled for 5-12 July, have been postponed due to COVID-19, there are still several events occurring at this time to bring the community together.

Tyrown Waigana, a Perth-based artist and designer, was named as this year’s winner of the National NAIDOC Poster Competition for his entry, Shape of Land. According to the artist, his winning design depicts the Rainbow Serpent coming out of the Dreamtime to create this country and how we are strongly connected to it.

Co-Chair of the National NAIDOC Committee, John Janke, said the decision to postpone NAIDOC Week was not taken lightly but was done so to protect the most vulnerable in the community including elders and those with chronic health issues.

The Week has been rescheduled to 8-15 November at which time Mr Janke said it is hoped the virus will be under greater control and there will be fewer restrictions with social gatherings.

Reflecting on NAIDOC Week, Mr Janke said each year the event continues to grow with more diverse individuals and communities becoming involved.

He noted that Black Lives Matters has been a catalyst for people to ask questions of themselves and their history, with a “growing hunger to learn about Indigenous history”.

“Even here in Canberra the history of the local Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, what were we taught about them,” Mr Janke said. “Why haven’t we been taught that history? We should be.”

Mr Janke said “I think there is always an apprehension to learn about Indigenous culture”. However, there is plenty to be gained from learning about the Indigenous history of Australia including the language, ceremony, culture and tradition.

Mr Janke said he hopes that when NAIDOC Week is held in November, the wider community will “come along and share the culture” as the celebrations are for everyone.

In the interim, some communities and organisations are still acknowledging the original July dates for NAIDOC with a variety of digital events.

Locally, an ACT Community Sector NAIDOC Week event will be held via Facebook Live and YouTube on Tuesday 7 July 11am-12.30pm.

Participating community sector organisations will be hosting a live stream Q&A session, facilitated by Dan Bourchier from the ABC, with local community members to discuss the meaning and importance of Aboriginal culture to them, with particular focus on this year’s theme ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’.

This will be coupled with a combination of live and pre-recorded interviews and performances from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, interspersed with contributions of videos/creative pieces, on this year’s theme, from the local community.

The National NAIDOC Committee has also partnered with the Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF) for the Run Sweat Inspire Festival. Participants can register to run or walk a virtual 2km march, 5km, 10km, half marathon or full marathon distance across the week of 5-12 July.

Funds raised from the event will go directly to the IMF to continue its work in developing and championing Indigenous leaders and assisting communities to adopt healthier and more active lifestyles across Australia.

For more information, visit www.runsweatinspire.org/home

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