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Community & Business

5 February, 2023

Sacred smoking ceremony welcomes everyone to Country

For only the second time in Gilgandra’s history, a smoking ceremony was held at the Australia Day celebrations.

By Emily Middleton

Welcoming and connecting the community, Uncle Ralph Naden said that this event is the ideal way to come together.

“Being a black fella, (a smoking ceremony) is part of getting together. That’s not dividing us, that’s getting together. Once you combine, you become family,” he explained.

During the Australia Day Prelude Concert, Uncle Ralph also told the audience that they were all family.

“I said to them last night — I said have a look around, and see how many First Nations people, you can see here. You are all my family.

“It’s not about, ‘oh you think you’re running the show, etc,’ it’s about getting together, and you do things properly,” he added.

Uncle Ralph welcomed attendees to Country, as well as welcomed them to the exact location where the ceremony took place, through the welcome dances.

Ensuring young people continue to only move forward, Uncle Ralph has also taken some of the younger community under his wing. Alongside him in his welcome dance stood boys from Trangie and surrounding areas. Guiding them forward, the youth shared their experiences while dancing with the Bangarra Dance Theatre and on the big stage at the Schools Spectacular.

“That’s encouragement to help young Aboriginal kids,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter who they are, they keep going forward. We all stumble in life a little, but we have to keep going forwards.

“Don’t count how many times you fall down, count how many times you got back up,” Uncle Ralph said.

“Don’t worry about skin, that’s got nothing to do with it. It’s what’s in underneath there, that carries you through,” he added.

Uncle Ralph said that he was beyond proud of the young group, and looks forward to continuing to share their journey.

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