CEREMONY: Bundjalung educator Gilbert Laurie smokes out the bad spirits to invite the good into the NAIDOC Family Fun Day at Grafton.
CEREMONY: Bundjalung educator Gilbert Laurie smokes out the bad spirits to invite the good into the NAIDOC Family Fun Day at Grafton. Clair Morton

NAIDOC event promotes revival of Aboriginal languages

JINGIWALLAH mulla djungun.

Bundjalung for "welcome to this country", it was the embracing sentiment behind NAIDOC at the Grafton Showgrounds today.

The family fun day bought people from all over the Clarence Valley to celebrate Aboriginal culture and languages, in line with the official theme for 2017, Our Languages Matters.

And with more than 200 native languages across Australia, there's certainly a lot to celebrate.

For Bundjalung educator Gilbert Laurie, Aboriginal languages are steeped in respect, or "garirmah".

Which is why he is so passionate about sharing it.

"I love working with anyone... sharing language with the broader community is the main thing," he said.

"I would really like to bring programs into the Clarence River and work with Local Land Councils so they can go out and share the stories, because doing this language does matter."

MC for the day, Maclean man Trevor Kapeen, agreed.

"Our people stopped talking native languages because of how they were bought up by mission managers and such, so we're bringing it back into community so people can understand what our language is," he said.

"Not just Aboriginals but the whole community."

Mr Kapeen added that NAIDOC Week was a time to be proud of all aspects of Aboriginal culture.

"The family fun day is a beautiful day, and it has been run like this for years," he said.

"Everyone and anyone is welcome to join in the activities, but for our people it is also about knowing what services are out there may assist them in going forward."

NAIDOC celebrations continue in Maclean tomorrow with the Terry Randall Memorial Reconciliation Golf Day. Teeing off from 9.30am, there are plenty of prizes to be won.



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