JUSTICE & PEACE CANDLELIGHT WALKS 2000

Over January 2000 a number of Ngarrindjeri people came together under the auspices of the Ngarrindjeri Land and Progress Association Inc., (NLPA), with its Chairperson and Manager-Tom Trevorrow, to meet with lawyer Patrick Byrt-a volunteer Convenor of Reconciliation and Human Rights at the then Norwood Community Legal Service Inc., to discuss how to get a Ngarrindjeri involvement in activities on 26 January 2000.

Various suggestions were considered, including participation in the official Australia Day parade. The NLPA Meningie CDEP Co-ordinator and ATSIC Patpa Warra Yunti Regional Councillor-Matt Rigney, had proposed that something particularly informative needed to occur on 26 January to increase awareness in the wider South Australian community of the legitimate concerns of the Ngarrindjeri people about increasing respect for the continuation of Ngarrindjeri spiritual and cultural beliefs.

Subsequently an action group comprising Pastor Ken Sumner, Patpa Warra Yunti Regional Councillor Victor Wilson, the Murray Bridge Waile’s Co-ordinator Marshall Carter, and Tom Trevorrow was formed to meet with the Norwood Reconciliation Convenor. The group then proposed to inaugurate a Justice and Peace Candlelight Walk around Government House for the evening of 26 January. The first walk was a success with some 80 people attending. It was so inspiring for the walkers that it was decided to continue it every month over the whole twelve months. This has been taking place over the intervening months, and now after seven successful candlelight walks throughout the year, the group will consider another evening candlelit walk on 26 January 2001. The 7th walk on 1 September attracted some 30 people to walk together with candles despite a day of heavy rain and a windy, rain spattered evening.

Ngarrindjeri people from Adelaide, and as far away as Meningie and Murray Bridge, have also continuously kept faith with the walk. Their commitment has attracted the involvement of local members of the Indigenous grassroots. It was the concerned involvement of Aboriginal people from the parks and streets of Adelaide meeting with family members from the country areas, which was the initial backbone of the event. Walks have now been held in January, February, May, June, July and August. Despite winter weather the number attending with candles has never fallen below 50 people.

The Reconciliation and Human Rights function of the former Norwood Community Legal Service Inc., now re-named the Roma Mitchell Community Legal Centre Inc., has been to facilitate publicity for the walk in co-operation with the Ngarrindjeri group. Through ongoing feedback from Tom Trevorrow and the NLPA, a flyer was drawn up, in consultation with the Reconciliation and Human Rights Convenor, Patrick Byrt, by a local Adelaide community artist, Ruth Farrant, who has long supported the rights of the Ngarrindjeri people to their traditions and to uphold their cultural and spiritual beliefs.

This flyer has been very instrumental in getting the word out about the candle lit walks, whose progress can be judged from the flyer and the following announcement from a Critical Choice column that the City Messenger newspaper published prior to the 6th walk on Friday 4 August: "JUSTICE & PEACE CANDLIGHT WALK: Adelaideans can show their support for a treaty with Australia's Indigenous peoples. Candles will be lit for justice and peace advocating an Indigenous treaty on Friday August 4, and every following first Friday of the month throughout 2000. Walkers can gather with candles at Government House from 7PM for an 8PM start. The walk aims to protect Ngarrindjeri culture, spiritual beliefs, lands and waters, and to stop any nuclear waste dump on traditional lands, and from affecting the environment." [Walk Flyer available] This Critical Choice column announcement by the City Messenger was redrafted and then republished on 30 August to advertise a Candlelight Walk for Friday 1 September.

The City Messenger has continued to support the Candlelight Walk with further community advertising of the event. The Critical Choice column on December 6 published the finale advertisement for 2000 as follows: Justice & Peace: The final year 2000 Justice & Peace Candlelight Walk will be at 8pm on Friday, December 8, around Government House, advocating a treaty via a Bill of Rights to protect Ngarrindjeri culture, spiritual beliefs, lands and waters and to stop any nuclear dump on traditional lands. Walkers can gather from 7pm.

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