Together they marched side-by-side in solidarity.
A strong group of elders, dignitaries and community members kicked off NAIDOC Week celebrations in Taree on Monday, July 8 through a march down Victoria Street.
Organised by Taree Indigenous Development and Employment (TIDE), proud Biripi people, community groups, MidCoast Council representatives and local high school students and teachers marched with signs, spears, flags, gum leaves and balloons to signify the start of a week of celebration.
Several people carried signs with phrases such as "I support land rights", "The truth is stolen generation land and time is not the same as stolen goods", and "The truth is it's not Taree it's Djarii" while others chanted "What do want? Treaty. When do we want it? Now."
Andrew Saunders spoke to Manning River Times about the importance of the march.
"This is a march of solidarity, it's a march of inclusion, connection and community," Andrew said.
WATCH: All the highlights from the NAIDOC Week march and ceremony in Taree.
"It's all about showcasing the pride in the Indigenous first peoples, remembering where we come from and how far we've come and how we're all survivors together."
The march ended at the MidCoast Council chambers ahead of a NAIDOC Week ceremony.
Uncle Russell Saunders OAM used the Welcome to Country to talk about this year's theme 'Voice, Treaty, Truth'.
"We have a voice, we made a statement on the main street of this town, Taree.
"Today we have a voice, everyone of you has a voice.
"Our voice is to get it out there, speak to people about our country, our people, our culture, our life, our stories.
"The more we give out, the more understanding the rest of our community will come to know and love the Biripi people," Uncle Russell said.
He spoke about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must continue to tell stories about the past and present for future generations.
Our voice is to get it out there, speak to people about our country, our people, our culture, our life, our stories.Uncle Russell Saunders OAM
"We tell the truth, we tell our stories.
"We can live in the past and be sad and angry and frustrated. No, be strong, be proud, tell the truth and stories.
"If we don't tell them what really happened, how are the rest of our people going to know what's going on in our country?
"Speak the truth and the truth shall set you free. We need to be free of all the things of the past, we need to move forward and the only way we're going to do that is acknowledge the truth, acknowledge the past and then you move on," Uncle Russell said.
Uncle Russell was hopeful of seeing a treaty in his lifetime.
"Treaty, it's still drifting out there.
"It's blowing over the minds of government people, the people of Australia. That still hasn't hit earth yet.
"Until it does, then we might see a treaty in this country," Uncle Russell said.
As smoke wafted over the crowd, Jeremy Saunders led a cleansing ceremony before a series of traditional dance performances.
In an address, MidCoast Council mayor David West described NAIDOC Week as "an opportunity for remembrance, reflection, pride, celebration and recognition."
"You tell your history, don't let someone else from another country write your history.
"I believe we are all fortunate to live in a community where we have passionate elders who are committed to restoring your language, maintain traditions and sharing your magnificent culture.
"Importantly, NAIDOC Week is a week of celebration, and the way of celebrating and promoting a greater understanding of the people, culture, history and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
"It's also an opportunity for all Australians to learn about and reflect upon the unique contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have made to the development of Australia.
Today we look to the future, a future that has a better understanding and celebrates the unique connection that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience with their country.Cr David West, MidCoast Council mayor
"It's up to everyone across the MidCoast Council area to support each other, unite in heritage and importantly to acknowledge areas of disadvantage.
"Today we look to the future, a future that has a better understanding and celebrates the unique connection that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience with their country," David said.
Jaycent Davis performed Advance Australia Fair in Gathang while the Aboriginal, Australian and NSW flags were raised outside the front of the council chambers.
Some of the phrases were changed in respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people while some words were unable to be translated from English to Gathang.
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