PROMOTING RECONCILIATION: Yamba Buccaneers president Andrew Bennett and artist Frances Belle Parker with the club's indigenous jersey design.
PROMOTING RECONCILIATION: Yamba Buccaneers president Andrew Bennett and artist Frances Belle Parker with the club's indigenous jersey design. Adam Hourigan

Buccaneers embrace indigenous history

RUGBY UNION: The Buccaneers will play in their indigenous jersey for the first time today, coinciding with NAIDOC Week and as part of an initiative by the club to recognise its heritage.

Club president Andrew Bennett made it clear the club wanted the initiative to really mean something and said there was a sense of excitement and perhaps just a little relief the day had come to unveil the jersey.

"I think this is something the Yamba Rugby club can do to promote that reconciliation process and continue it within the community," he said.

"We have done this in conjunction with the Elders, who will play a major part in the day."

The club engaged local Yaegl artist Francis Belle Parker to create the design, which was inspired by an aerial view of the Yamba river mouth and depicts the story of the stone canoe.

A Welcome to Country will open proceedings at 1pm and be followed by a smoking ceremony, traditional dance, and Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Billy Walker, chairman Ken Laurie and Yaegl Elders Council chairwoman Elizabeth Smith will speak to the crowd.

Billy Walker described it as a great initiative by the club and said it had the capacity to contribute to broader conversations around issues such as indigenous recognition in the Constitution.

"A lot of Yaegl men have played for the Buccaneers over time and it is one way of reconciling and closing the gap between both cultures," he said.

"Because people want to hear our stories and our voice. And once they hear it, it helps to give a better understanding of who we are as Yaegl people."

The jerseys would be presented to the players by past indigenous Buccaneers players and Glen Ella would also be attending as an ambassador for Rugby Australia.

Bennett said it was particularly fitting the Buccaneers would face another Clarence Valley side.

"It is important we are playing against Grafton because it is the river that unites us as the Clarence Valley," he said.

The women's sevens kicks off at 2pm and the President's Cup game is at 3.15pm.



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