Last Monday, I had a chance to visit my sisters after a long period of lockdown. I joined one of my sisters for school pick up and was greeted enthusiastically by my niece and nephew, whom I had not seen for a number of months. I usually ask them about their school work and activities. My nephew, Thomas, who is in Grade 4, mentioned that his school was celebrating NAIDOC week. I asked him, ‘What does NAIDOC stand for?’ He told me that “NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee.” It is quite impressive that he as a first generation of Vietnamese parents has become aware of and respectful, even grateful, for the long Aboriginal and Islander history which makes up this country where we have made our second home.
NAIDOC Week is usually held and celebrated during the first week of July; unfortunately, this celebration was moved to November this year due to the unexpected pandemic. Celebrating NAIDOC week reminds us (particularly the younger generation) and gives us the chance to appreciate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Moreover, it helps in raising a cultural awareness to the various groups of migrants who come to see Australia as their second home. NAIDOC Week provides a great opportunity to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society.
As the faith community, celebrating NAIDOC Week binds us all together from different ethnic backgrounds or cultures. It encourages us to leave behind an unfortunate history and invites us to live in the spirit of unity where God gives us a chance to reflect on the history of this beautiful country and shines forth a brighter light within Australia’s life and culture.
May our Lord, the Creator of Creations, pour his abundant blessing upon this magnificent, ancient land and all people who have lived here, those who have arrived recently and those who are yet to come.
Fr Trac Nguyen