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Heal Country. Both a call to action and a promise to continue to seek protection for land, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage, this is the theme for NAIDOC Week 2021.
Reading like an open letter, this year’s theme is a plea for Australia to provide stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage, including taking greater steps to heal some of the outstanding injustices which impact on the lives of First Nations people.
From Sunday 4 July until Sunday 11 July across Canberra, you can learn more about the past, present and future of Country and how to heal it beyond NAIDOC Week by listening, discovering, learning, creating and exploring.
Not sure where to begin? Here are a few ideas to fill the calendar.
Symbols & Clay
Led by Ngarigo woman artist Gail Neuss, the National Arboretum Canberra is hosting a workshop to learn about symbols used in Aboriginal artwork.
Perfect for children aged eight and up, you can drop them off while you explore the living collections of forests and gardens at the Arboretum.
Bookings are essential.
Monday 5 July 10 am-11.30 am or 1.30 pm-3 pm | $20 per child | Book at stickytickets.com.au
Storytime and craft
Perfect for little ones aged from four to seven years old, Ngarigo woman and artist Gail Nuess will read Little Bird’s Day by Indigenous children’s author Sally Morgan, a Palyku woman from the Pilbara.
Illustrated by Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr, a Yolngu man from the Ganalbingu clan, Little Bird’s Day is a heartwarming story that follows a day in the life of Little Bird.
Using seed pods, emu feathers and other natural materials they will create their own bird to explore their creativity and “sing the world alive”.
Parents must stay during the duration of the workshop.
Tuesday 6 Jul 10 am-11 am or 1 pm-2 pm | National Arboretum Canberra | $15 per child | Book at stickytickets.com.au
NAIDOC Week at the National Film and Sound Archive
This NAIDOC week, the National Film and Sound Archive will be screening stories about and by inspiring artists including Mervyn Bishop, Australia’s first Aboriginal press photographer (and the subjects of NFSA’s latest exhibition) artist Tracey Moffatt and Yolngu man David Gulpilil.
Make sure to check out the NFSA website to learn more.
Saturday 3 July | Art + Soul plus Night Cries | 2 pm | Free (Bookings essential)
Friday 9 July | My Name is Gulpilil | 6 pm | $10-$12
Saturday 10 July | Another Country | 2 pm | $10-$12
Perfect for the family, yarning stick circles bring people together to speak and listen from the heart.
Ngarigo woman and artist Gail Neuss will be talking about natural materials used to create art, while the whole family is invited to explore a hands-on artefact display and create their own yarning sticks out of yarn, feather, bone and seed pods.
Wednesday 7 Jul |National Arboretum Canberra |10 am-11.30 am or 1.30 pm-3 pm | $15 per child | Book at stickytickets.com.au
NAIDOC in the North
Belco Arts is back with another program packed with activities to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through story, song, art, dance and ceremony.
To honour the 2021 NAIDOC week theme ‘Heal Country’, NAIDOC in the North will present the photographic exhibition Healing Ngunnawal Country. There will also be plenty of food, kids activities and community information available on the day.
Saturday 10 July | Fitzroy Pavilion, EPIC | 10.30 am-2.30 pm | Free | belcoarts.com.au/naidoc
Woden Community Event
Head to Woden Town Square to explore workshops, stalls, food and more at the seventh annual ACT Community Sector NAIDOC Week Event.
The free event will include a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony by Billy Tompkins, a performance from Wiradjuri elder Johnny Huckle and more.
Visit the ACT Community Sector NAIDOC Week Event Facebook page for more information.
Tuesday 6 July | 10.45 am-2.30 pm | Free
2021 ACT NAIDOC Awards Ball
Pop on some black tie and book your tickets for the 2021 ACT NAIDOC Awards Ball. The night will celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their contributions to the community and issues impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Saturday 3 July | National Arboretum Canberra | 6.30-11.30 pm | Get your tickets here
2021 NAIDOC Family Day
With free entertainment, live music, cultural performances, kids rides and more, pop down to Boomanulla Oval, Narrabundah for the 2021 NAIDOC Family Day.
Make sure to keep an eye on the ACT Community Sector NAIDOC Week Event Facebook page for more information.
Sunday 4 July | Boomanulla Oval, Narrabundah| 10 am-4 pm | Free
MEGAfauna: once there were giants!
Come face to face with wombats the size of hippos and a turtle with a horned head in the Australian National Botanic Gardens! The first of its kind in Australia, the MEGAfauna trail explores nature, science, art, culture and history as it brings you face to face with Australia’s prehistoric past.
Learn about the giants and their stories by following Wonambi the Rainbow Serpent from the Visitor Centre to the Red Centre Garden.
Until Sunday 25 July | Australian National Botanic Gardens | Free
Indigenous art exhibition
The first floor of the Hellenic Club in Woden will be hosting artwork from Indigenous artists including Anthony Best, Natash Best and Rayne Orion. The works from the exhibition will also be for sale!
Find out more at hellenic club.com.au.
Until Sunday 11 July | Hellenic Club of Canberra | Free
Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion
Celebrating the fusion of art and fashion Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion celebrates Indigenous art, history and culture through contemporary fashion and design.
Opening earlier this year, the exhibition features a selection of garments and textiles by First Nations designers and artists from around Australia, highlighting the strength and diversity of the rapidly expanding Indigenous fashion and textile industry.
Read more about Piinpi here.
Until 8 August | First Australians Focus Gallery, National Museum of Australia | Free
NAIDOC Virtual Highlights Tour
From the comfort of your own home, explore Australia’s First National Identity with the National Portrait Gallery.
The Zoom tour will recognise portraits in the collection that shine a light on occupation, stories, and resilience.
Bookings are essential.
Tuesday 20 July | 12.30 pm-1 pm | National Portrait Gallery| Free online
Yidaki: Didjeridu and the Sound of Australia
Presented in partnership with the South Australian Museum, Yidaki: Didjeridu and the Sound of Australia was recently introduced to the National Museum of Australia.
Featuring 20 key objects displayed in a stringybark forest setting, museum-goers are invited to discover the power of the didjeridu and its meanings with the Yolngu people, cultural custodians of the instrument.
Until 26 September| Free| National Museum of Australia
Know My Name (Part Two)
Acknowledging that only 33% of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art collection is by women artists, the National Gallery of Australia is continuing the Know My Name exhibition to recognise and highlight the work of women across diverse creative practices. Explore the exhibition and enjoy some artwork from First Nations women.
Until 26 January 2022 | National Gallery of Australia | Free
Having a Yarn—Final Footprints: My Culture, My Kinship, My Country
ABC presenter Dan Bourchier will be talking to Kokatha woman Cindy Paardekooper, Yawuru man Jonathan Dodson-Jauncey and Worimi woman Kathryn Hooper to explore the importance of palliative care for First Nations people, how traditional and modern ways may co-exist in today’s society and more.
The session will include discussion on “death and dying”, “finishing up”, “sorry or sad business” or “sorry camps”, and “palliative care”.
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this event may contain the images, voices and names of people who have passed away.
Visit palliativecare.org.au for more information.
Thursday 8 July | 12 pm | Stream for free online via Palliative Care Australia’s YouTube channel