January 26th, a Day of Mourning and Survival

January 26th isn’t and should never have been a day for celebration. It is a day that marks the invasion of the British, and the beginning of the desecration of First Nations culture and lives through genocide and dispossession.

Invasion Day Rally in MelbourneInvasion Day rally in Melbourne, 2020. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, 2020.

For decades Indigenous peoples and allies have been boycotting Australia Day, fighting for it to be renamed, and for our national day's date to be changed. On January the 26th in 1938, First Nations people protested against Australia Day and named it a 'Day of Mourning.' When this day came in 1972, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was established outside of Parliament House in Canberra. Today, protests continue to take place each year, and we encourage everyone to support changing or abolishing the date (Creative Spirits, 2022).  

Over the years, the day has been given many different names that speak of both the heartbreak and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. ‘Day of Mourning’ conveys the deep loss Indigenous people feel on this day; the loss of family, loss of Country, loss of culture and loss of language. ‘Survival Day’ is a name that reflects the sheer resilience of First Nations people as they continue to fight for their rights, their Country and culture. Lastly ‘Invasion Day’ is a name that shares the truth: the British invaded and stole this Country. All three of these names for the day are important as each speaks of the different experiences First Nations peoples have faced across generations (SBS, 2022). 

If you would like to learn more about the history and how to support First Nations communities on Invasion Day, there are so many incredible articles and resources by Indigenous people you can check out, as well as non-for-profits you can support: 

Children’s Ground - is a non-for-profit who supports Indigenous children’s education and well-being. They offer an excellent list of books to read, movies to watch and non-for-profit organisations to support through this time. Find their resources here.  

Common Ground - is a non-for-profit that focuses on bringing about change within education and justice systems for First Nations peoples. They have an excellent article on their blog that talks about some of the history of Invasion Day, and gives Indigenous perspectives on what the day means. You can find the article here and donate to Common Grounds important work here.

How to be a better ally - Kaytetye woman and CEO of Common Ground, Rona Glynn-McDonald talked to Refinary 29 about how to be a better ally on Invasion Day. In the interview, she gives insight into the significance of January 26, and the importance of amplifying First Nations voices. You can find the full article here

Protests - Russh Magazine has written an article with a comprehensive list of where you can protest this Invasion Day. Remember to stay safe and adhere to covid safe precautions when attending protests. You can find their full list of protests as well as non-for-profits to support here