In November 2021 we held the first national reconciliation gathering in 20 years – the Australian Reconciliation Convention: three days of inspiring speakers, important conversations, reflection on how far we’ve come, and a rallying cry for the work ahead.
The first day situated us in the present by understanding how we got to where we are today in the reconciliation movement, and how that can inform how we move forward. Among the many speakers on the day were some key figures in Australia’s reconciliation journey who discussed the work that has been done.
Dr Jackie Huggins, Uncle Bill Lowah, Shelley Reys, and Fred Chaney had a spirited conversation on the achievements of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, and how that work formed the basis for Reconciliation Australia’s mission.
Highlights: Honouring the Past
Uncle Bill implored Australians to ‘get on board’ with reconciliation: “Blackfellas are offering a wild ride. Get on it, find out what it’s all about.”
We also considered both the structures and systems that allow racism to continue, and how we can dismantle them.
Highlights: Honouring the Future
Truth-telling and strategies for action in reconciliation were themes of the second day of the convention.
Chief Wilton Littlechild, member of the Ermineskin Cree Nation, located on Treaty 6 territory in Alberta, Canada, joined Yawuru man Senator Patrick Dodson to talk about the importance of truth-telling in both countries, and how the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission has pushed reconciliation forward.
We had three brilliant young people, Leroy Wilkinson-Maher, Kirli Saunders, and Clinton Benjamin, discussed with journalist, Dylan Storer, what’s needed to advance reconciliation, and how we can prepare for the next generation to continue this work.
The final day focused firmly on the future on transformational partnerships, on education, on representation and self-determination – on how we can advance reconciliation across various sectors and workplaces.
In a standout closing session, Narelda Jacobs was joined by Mick Gooda, Sally Scales, and politicians, Minister Ken Wyatt, Linda Burney MP, Senator Lidia Thorpe, who imagined what the future could look like in 2041.
Highlights: Where do we want to be in 20 years?
- First Nations peoples joined us from the USA, Canada, and Aotearoa-New Zealand to talk through the different journeys of First Nations empowerment across the world, and to look at what we can learn from each other
- Twenty breakout sessions focused on the mountains of work being done in our communities, workplaces, schools and universities, cultural institutions, local government
- The Narragunnawali Awards honoured the schools and early learning services doing exceptional work in their communities
- Christine Anu and her daughter, Zipporah Corser Anu, shared their reconciliation perspectives and gave an iconic performance of some of Christine’s most famous songs to wind up the event.
Check out all speakers and convention info at 2021arc.com.au. In 2022, we will further explore some of the insights shared by the 100 speakers across the 30 sessions – stay tuned!