An Acknowledgement of Country is a way of showing awareness of and respect for the traditional Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander owners of the land on which a meeting or event is being held, and of recognising the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to their Country. There are a number of occasions where at the start of a meeting, a conference or a function of any sort that you can have an Acknowledgement of Country.
An Acknowledgement of Country is different from a Welcome to Country, only a Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, usually an Elder, would carry out a Welcome to country. This is to welcome visitors to their traditional land. It can be carried out in a number of ways, depending on the particular culture of the traditional owners. It can include singing, dancing, smoking ceremonies or a speech. This is dependent upon the location of the event and the practice of the community. There should be an amount of care undertaken to make sure that the appropriate Aboriginal representative is invited to undertake the Ceremony. It is extremely important that the Aboriginal person has been involved in and is comfortable with all of the arrangements.
Both a Welcome to Country and an Acknowledgement of Country recognise the unique position of Aboriginal people in Australian culture and history and show respect for Aboriginal people.
There are a lot of people who wish to have an Acknowledgement of Country included in the introduction to their wedding. What can be included when you don’t know the language group is :
I would like to show my respect and acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, of elders past and present, on which this event takes place.
or if you know the specific nation you can say:
I would like to acknowledge the _______________ people who are the Traditional Custodians of this Land. I would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the_______________ Nation and extend that respect to other Aboriginals present.
If you want to know more about Welcome to Country or an Acknowledgement of Country ceremonies there is great information on the Creative Spirits Website
A big thank you to Michael Thomas for the use of his stunning photos on the blog this week, you can look at more of his work here.