NAIDOC Week has officially launched in Moree after the opening ceremony and march ushered in the month-long celebrations on Monday.
While NAIDOC Week celebrations are often kept to a seven-day window across Australia, Moree enjoys four weeks of community activities.
“There is just so much happening in Moree that it would be impossible to squeeze it all into one week,” NAIDOC Committee chairman and master of ceremony Glen Crump said.
“Moree always draws a great crowd, and there is so much involvement from the community.”
Case in point, more than 100 people took to the opening march down Balo Street to throw their support behind this year’s NAIDOC theme, “Because of her, we can.”
The theme has focused the limelight on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their achievements in the community.
“This year we celebrate the invaluable contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have made and continue to make in our communities and families,” Mr Crump said.
Mr Crump noted that leading up to the official ceremony, members of the community were invited to nominate an inspirational woman in Moree.
“Until you really start to look around, you don’t realise just how many women have been so influential in the community,” he said.
Aunty Gay Roberts delivered the Welcome to Country at the opening ceremony and invited ceremony-goers to join in the celebrations.
“Today I invited everyone to learn about the stories, history and culture. To share this knowledge between the young and old can help this community.”
While the NAIDOC theme may celebrate the past achievements of inspirational women, it also celebrates the next generation.
2018 NAIDOC coordinator Blossom Pitt took to the stage to officially welcome the entrants for this year’s Moree Miss NAIDOC Princesses.
It is the first time in 16 years that the NAIDOC Princesses has been hosted in Moree. The two-week program is a departure from your typical beauty pageant, and aims to bolster the courage and confidence of the entrants.
The entrants have already finished a week’s worth of activities, where they have listened to inspirational talks or travelled to places like Terry Hie Hie for a cultural awakening.
“These young ladies are quite courageous. It’s not easy to do this program that they are doing,” Ms Pitt said.
Guest-speaker and Moree Plains Shire Mayor Katrina Humphries echoed Ms Pitt’s sentiment.
“I’ve been lucky over the past week or so to pop into a few things, and they [the princesses] are doing their community proud.
“You are all princesses and should be extraordinarily proud of yourselves.”
Cr Humphries extended her praise to the wider community of women.
“Women give life, nobody else can do that. We give life and we nurture.
“I think it’s wonderful to make it a centre piece for this NAIDOC Week,” she said.
Federal Member for the Electorate of Parkes Mark Coulton joined cr Humphries in heaping praise on the inspirational women.
“For me, what’s essential about the women in our communities is that they are the nurturers of the family,” Mr Coulton said.
“They are the keepers of our tradition, who keep our families together. They play that role day in and day out.”
Guest-speaker and Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall praised the overall celebrations and said he looked forward to what was to come.
“This will be a terrific week to show what a wonderful community Moree is.”