Australia’s national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research institute was welcomed back to its “spiritual home” on Larrakia Land in Darwin yesterday evening during a cultural ceremony marking the beginning of the Lowitja Institute’s second International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference.
On a perfect Dry season night, with the sun setting on the harbour behind, the Larrakia Nation welcomed hundreds of mostly Indigenous delegates from across Australia and the globe with a smoking ceremony to cleanse people’s minds and spirits.
Richard Fejo, a Larrakia Elder and chair of the Larrakia Nation, said:
I always feel a peace when I stand on my Country. I know I’m at home. Here at Larrakia, I want you to feel the peace that I feel when I’m on my Country.
We offer this to our visitors and people who live here.
You have come by the way of the Larrakia Nation. When you’re here, you hear the voices of our ancestors. When you leave, you’ll take the Larrakia message with you. May our ancestors guide and protect you always.”
Lowitja Institute chair Pat Anderson said the conference, which will feature guest speakers from around the world, was a testament to the strengths of an organisation that began 22 years ago.
“Darwin is the spiritual home of the Lowitja institute,” she said. “We started here over 22 years ago so it is with a great sense of pride and pleasure that I’m able to bring this huge conference home.
“Thank you to Larrakia for having us again, on Country.”
Below are some snaps and tweets as delegates arrived for the three-day event, which is being covered by Summer May Finlay and Marie McInerney for the Croakey Conference News Service.
Watch Summer May Finlay interview the Torres Strait Islander cultural performers Upai Purri, speaking about their work with young people in detention and schools.
Click on this link to watch the snapshot video compiled by Summer May Finlay.
Snaps and selfies
The hashtag was trending nationally on Twitter before the Cultural Ceremony even began.