January 26 is, by coincidence, a significant date in the national calendars of two countries, with an important difference.
In India, 26 January marks Republic Day, and celebrates the date when the constitution of India came into effect in 1950. In short: official independence.
In Australia, 26 January marks the day 11 foreign ships sailed into what is now called Sydney Harbour and established a penal colony on the land of the Eora, the Aboriginal people of the area. This act was without permission, agreement or treaty. It set in motion events the Indigenous peoples of this country — Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples — are still reeling from today. In short: invasion.
I could not think of a starker contrast than these two national “celebrations.”
Not only does it mark the day the dispossession of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples began, it sets up European invasion as an important source of Australian identity and pride; ignoring more than 60,000 years of pre-colonial history.
Read the full text of this article from Reconciliation Australia Co-Chair, Professor Tom Calma, at CNN Online.