On Thursday January 26, we were honoured to have been at the 2017 Yabun Festival in Victoria Park. Throughout the day we asked visitors to our stall to contribute a line of poetry to answer the question, What does January 26 mean to you? The results were a long, emotional and inspiring poem created by our community that we live tweeted on our Twitter account. Some lines were edited down a little to fit the Twitter format of 140 characters, some were split across tweets. Here is the poem in full, and huge thanks to everyone who contributed:
What does January 26 mean to you?
Shame and sadness, loss, chains. Unremembering. Preforgetting. Alternative facts and searing empathy fail.
The REAL Australia Day!!
Yabun, the heartbeat of Australia.
A day that people come together - "You tell your pop that Moose said hello!"
Last year I arrived to Australia a couple of days before Australia Day. We came to the festival. It was good but now it's better.
Remembrance of our true history.
Should be a mourning day.
I love Australia. I came on Australia Day and I learnt to speak, read and write in English.
If it's going to be Australia Day, it needs to be for all Australians.
A changing nation - not Aussie Ocker.
"No pride in Genocide!" Sam saw this on Parramatta Rd.
It means survival to my people and it's a joyous time because we're still here. And that's deadly.
It's NOT the national day of patriotic devotion.
Celebrate multiculturalism and Indigenous heritage.
Good way to know about Australia and its identity by a foreign person like me (from Chile).
Celebrate and accept each other.
An impressive attempt at inclusion on a divisive day.
I'll think about it and come back later.
We're here to celebrate the Aboriginal way - they've been here as long as the stars in the sky.
A time to explore our First Nation's culture and to educate those with closed minds.
It means too much to put into 140 characters.
An opportunity to realise and reapply traditional custodian roles and values keeping the spirit of the Earth alive.
We've come to celebrate everybody.
A day to celebrate our community but also remember the Aboriginal people who died.
Not for me to joke or scoff / It's just great with a day off.
A special day for me because I am part Aboriginal and can remember them through my bloodline.
Means going to Yabun.
A day for me to be with my best friend who is Aboriginal. I love coming with her and supporting her and what she loves and believes, as well as broadening my own knowledge.
The day my family had strength and courage and fought for their rights to be HUMAN.
Celebrating our culture and spending time with the family.
The day we explore and talk about our family's heritage - Aboriginal Australian and German.
Community and connectedness.
We've come to celebrate Survival Day and our culture.
A day to confront my white privilege and to celebrate the survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in spite of it.
As an Indian Australian, today means breaking ties with our colonial past and becoming a republic. The Australian in me would love to see us do the same and right the wrongs of the past.
Great to see so much professional help and support.
To support and celebrate the local Indigenous community.
I'm not comfortable anywhere else except here...don't want to be at a generic sausage sizzle.
Caring and looking after the kids.
Flags, jumping castles, dancing, building things...
A time to be quiet, listen and learn.
Yabun is a beautiful day of inclusiveness, generosity, meeting and joining and sharing. Love it every year.
The survival of our mob: Celebrating our culture!
Celebrating the 26th is not my idea of Australians in not celebrating the first nation that the people of this land have looked after for thousands of years. I celebrate the culture that has fought for since white people stole from them!
My family is here. It's a new year!
Blakfellas continue to survive, the cultures are still alive, you have to be very strong as Elders sing sacred songs, let's all eagerly come celebrate this Yabun in the sun.
Support equal rights for all!
Today means being with mob and that's all that matters, as our people count.
I feel sad until I come to Yabun.
Yabun represents the community that I want to be part of.
About making a house at Yabun with Uncle John.
A day where Australians celebrate colonisation while ignoring the unimaginable cost it had on the very first Australians.
The day where we should celebrate Australia's diversity and beautiful culture without marginalising its own diversity.
Aboriginal Day (Yabun) is really good!
A day of remembrance and cultural significance - I think it's a beautiful thing for people of different backgrounds to come together and celebrate and I love being part of it.
Takes us back to the first discovering of Australia by the Europeans. For us it also reminds us of having this great land we call home, with respect to the Indigenous people and their culture.
A day which reminds us of having this great land we call home, with respect to the Indigenous people and their culture.
It makes me reflect about how our history has affected the First Australians and how we can turn that history around.
Australia for all Australians. Treaty it.
It's a lot worse than 25th of January.
To celebrate Survival Day.
A day of diversity, change and respect for all Aboriginal people past, present and future.
Any other day to celebrate and be respectful #May8
To come together to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to show us what their cultures mean to them.
To celebrate identity in all its variations - and a day for all Aussies to remember their black present, past and future.
A day of unity to celebrate how far we have come from the white settlers anniversary to the diversity of present day Australia.
Sad, because Australian people took over the Aboriginal people (age 7).
The day the white English came by boat to Aboriginal land - and life for the Indigenous people of this continent would never be the same again. Some say the English settled this country but really they just moved in, pushed the First People out, and proceeded to murder, rape, steal land and whatever it took to do whatever they wanted. Not a day to celebrate unless you are celebrating Aboriginal survival!
I think Australia Day should be renamed Invasion Day.
Today means standing with community.
A day of loss, a day of external change.
A day when Australia gets recognised as a nation. Being Indian it is very good to me as India celebrates its Republic Day on the same day. Live long and happiness for Australia.
Represents a day of conflicted feelings for me. While we can't change what happened on this day, it is a part of history. I think celebration of "Australia" isn't the best way to spend this day each year.
A day to remember as Survival Day. A day when white culture imposed their will onto Indigenous culture.
I'm a foreigner and still learning about this culture, but for me this day has showed me how hopeful and forgiving people can be.
It's more than just a typical BBQ - the 26th of January is a day of survival that should be celebrated in this country together.
It's about mourning and healing.
There is no Australia Day while it's set on a date of shame. There's only Yabun, and the promise of change.
A day of conflict. Internal and external. Of two cultures colliding and the mess that followed. What is "Australia"? Who are the "Australians"? How do we resolve this conflict and move into a place of peace? Today is a day to consider questions such as these.
A day we need to think about what this date represents.
It's a missed opportunity. Holding our national day on the same day our country was invaded is a day of the worst possible shame. Change the date!
The same as any other day - just with more sleep.
A day of mourning. A reminder of rights we have lost and how far we have to go.
Day of appreciation and diversity.
Confliction clouds the celebration.
It means reflection and anxiety about who we are and where we're going.
It means I go to Yabun to hide out so no-one wishes me Happy Australia Day! Thank you, now I'm safe.
It helps me celebrate my black history.
Today is about us. Humanity. Colour is not the fear. Understanding is the reward. It is our history. Friendship and connection to the oldest living peoples.
A day to stand in solidarity with the First Peoples of Australia and to reflect on the wrongs to move forward towards unity.
The first day of the invasion of the Australian continent. The traditional owners have persisted and one day will develop a treaty with the colonising government. Then we will have cause to celebrate a united Australia.
It makes me feel sad because Aboriginals had to survive on January the 26th, but when I come to Yabun I feel happy because I have lots of fun with my cousins (age 10).
An opportunity to celebrate Aboriginal culture with my children - we are Palawa Wiradjuri. We live in culture and with land and love and our family will continue to learn about our ancestral journey this year.
It's time to move into a new future and come to terms with a painful past. Empowerment and hope is what it should mean.
The survival of Aboriginal culture and tradition.
My culture and everyone celebrating what our history is about.
A day of shame. A day of pain. Rays of hope.
Australia Day means that ALL Australians get together.
Let the true inhabitants decide on the true date.
A day for all Australians to celebrate being alive.
The first boat people claimed this land as theirs, regardless of the Indigenous population. Not a day to celebrate the slaughter.
Australia Day is about slacking off and mucking about.
An inappropriate date to celebrate the genocide of a nation of people. In 239 years we have virtually destroyed a 60,000 year old culture. When you are having your BBQ, filling your belly with alcohol and wondering what the hell you are celebrating, just remember those affected and who continue to suffer. Change the date.
There is no Australia Day when it's set on a day of shame. There's only Yabun and the promise of change.
A day of mourning, suffering and genocide. A day of reflection instead of celebration. A day to remember your country's roots.
The day means reflection for me. It makes me think about how this history has affected the First Australians and what we can do to heal and turn that history around.
The day is very mixed for me - being a 5th generation white Australian I am both proud and ashamed of my heritage. I grew up on the Murray River with lots of Aboriginal kids and suspect that my forefathers may have had a negative impact on the local population.
They've come to kill Aborigines on January 26.
Mostly means to say sorry to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.
The day James Cook came and murdered a lot of Aborigines and a day to come together and celebrate the First Peoples' survival.
A day to promote respect and accept responsibility to the First Peoples of this nation.
Learning about the original people of this beautiful land.
Well, what can I say? We need to all get together and live in peace as one.
Glad my direction led me to the path of Yabun. There's no other place to be today.
A day to reflect and respect.
Today is about survival and a day for checking my colonial privilege. A day of mourning and listening.
To commemorate destruction of Aboriginal culture.
Means all peoples should be equal. Especially our own First Peoples.
In Australian our First Peoples should not have to fight for land and be a part of our stupid courts, governments and gods.
A very sad and misunderstood day for me, a lot of non-Indigenous people don't and will never understand what this day represents to us Aboriginal people. It was the day our innocence was taken. We lost a lot of our culture and language. It was the beginning of the end of our peaceful place of beauty and magic. It became the time our children were taken from us, and our peoples slaughtered. It was the invasion.
Leaves me feeling uncomfortable even though I love my country Australia. The date needs to change so we can all celebrate and not remember past horrors and massacres.
A day of unity for all Australians of every creed, colour and race.
Means to me BBQs, Aboriginals get recognised and hanging out on the couch.
A day to acknowledge the Aboriginal Spirit, and recognise Invasion Day.
A day to reflect and remember.
Survival of Aboriginal people, coming together and never forget where we come from and where we can go as a race of beautiful and unique people who still thrive and continue to survive no matter what is thrown at us.
Loud music! Recognition!
January 26th / Invasion is no myth / It's time to get out of the pit / Look above, the sky is lit / Upwards is the way to flow / Peep out, there's a new world to create and more / Just go!
A reminder that we whites are interlopers in this beautiful land and we owe a great debt to the First Nations and the land itself.
A day to remember as Survival Day. A day when white culture imposed their will onto Indigenous culture.
When asked, "What do people do on Australia Day?" I said barbies and cricket. Then we came to Yabun.
Marching from Redfern to Yabun.
Today is a good day for me, especially feeling good about who I am and where I come from.
It makes me feel happy, fantastic, amazed because it's a day to celebrate my culture.
It's a day of survival and a day of revival.
I didn't know January 26th existed until 2009. It was just a normal day.
A day when we celebrate Indigenous people and also Australian people.
It should be an acknowledgement of everything that today is, and of everything that happened on this day in the past. I have never really understood why people celebrate this day knowing what it means.
To me it means Captain Cook arriving and slaughtering our ancestors, stealing land that doesn't belong, changed Aboriginal peoples' way of life forever. But we as a whole of different tribes have survived and our culture is alive and well.
To me a date that can be remembered but should not be recognised as a day of celebration or nationhood. Move to another date.
Great to see a lot of happiness and activities where we are able to see professional help and assistance.
A free day without work. I'm not Australian so I can't say that I really understand the meaning of the day, but it is great to see that Australian people try to do something with their history.
Survival Day, and I had a lot of fun today.
A sad day for Indigenous Australians. But it's good at Yabun because we can celebrate our culture and our people.
If it's not deliberate it's provocative.
Marks the first day of the invasion of the Australian continent. The traditional owners have persisted.
A month after Boxing Day.
Means to me that the Aboriginal people do a march and it makes me have all different emotions.
Sadly is the anniversary of my father's death 11 years ago, in London. I've only lived in Australia for three years so I'm learning the ropes. However, it does seem strange that a country should celebrate a date that signifies the strangulation of a culture.
Happy Survival Day.
A day of mourning and a sad time. Remembering who suffered and sharing stories through teachings.
Australia Day, which means the dark history should never be forgotten.
Survival Day. I like the day because you get to do fun stuff (age 6).
Australia Day I think is about Aboriginal people, and I like today because I could listen to Kev Carmody (age 8).
To remember who this country truly belongs to: the Aboriginal People.
January 26th is an insult.
It wasn't settled. It was unsettled.
A space where all the people, Australian people and overseas people are able to share their cultural behaviours and habits, to meet each other and show to other people their own identity. This day means and should mean union.
A day that shows the great beauty of Australian people coming together.
A divided day where I feel no place but to reflect on the injustice we inflict on each other, often born of ignorance, and remind me of the dire need for education that teaches connection and compassion above all else.
A day for me to show solidarity with Indigenous people by joining in the Yabun festival.
Making lamingtons, listening to Kev Carmody and reflecting on our colourful history.
Australia means fun and laughter to me.
I came to Sydney last week to discover I would be here in Australia Day. Howe lucky! We don't have any national day, holiday or otherwise.
I think the date should be changed to May 8. Let's celebrate on a day everyone can enjoy.
A time to think about, question and remember what it means to be Australian. It's a changing, growing thing - Australian.
A constant survival of communities not being validated for what they went through. A personal journey too - it's the 30th anniversary of my Nonna passing. She would want us to keep fighting for justice.
To remember the mistakes of the past, pay reconciliation to Australia's First People and to see that it never happens again. Most of all, to respect today's original people and educate for a better future.
The day is not available for all Australians. It is a time for change, or to not have a patriotic day.
The government should do more for the Aboriginal people.
A double face event. I'm new here, but if I would live here it will be difficult for me to celebrate. On this day I would try to find out something about the real culture of Australia and how can I support it.
A day of remembrance. Despite the political associations it is a day that forces us to recognise what our country is founded on and the history we cannot forget. It has become a day of unity in other ways, allowing Indigenous people to unite under a common story. To transcend differences and defend a future of what our people want to collectively represent in the future.
It's absurd that we celebrate the invasion of white colonisers and mass genocide of Indigenous peoples on this day although I'm glad we have Yabun to bring us together to celebrate and be conscious of survival and strength of Aboriginal people, and have an alternative event where we get the opportunity to enjoy the talents and culture of our First People. F@#! Invasion Day, long live Survival Day!
The day of invasion and dispossession and colonisation of Aboriginal people. I strongly believe that this day cannot be celebrated on January 26 and should be changed to an alternative date.
God save the Queen.
Big mob get together. Fun.
Wanting to stand in solidarity with the First Peoples of this country, and to remember past and current wrongs so that we may move forward united.
Today means about a thousand years ago our people were fighting for our land, and that's something to be proud of.
Kio ora kia ka ha, 200 years, love patient inclusive, an act of loving generosity at Yabun, of share education, thank you. What January 26 means to me? Not much. Death. Destruction. A white Australia. Dress up, The power and the glory. F@#! that.
I have to acknowledge how violently this land was taken from the First People; so I always spend this day paying respect to (and with) the First People.
A day to acknowledge the traditional owners past and present - to thank them for their hospitality and support their struggle for justice.