Mount Isa's Naidoc Week got under with a mixed sense of pride and sadness with a flag raising ceremony outside the Civic Centre on Sunday morning.
The pride was best expressed by Pastor Peter Smith who noted that while Aboriginal people were present at the first flag raising ceremony on January 26, 1788 they were not involved, unlike on Sunday in Mount Isa and at similar ceremonies across Australia.
"That first flag raising was significant as it meant the land was under new ownership by King George III of England," Pastor Smith said.
"Now Aboriginal people are raising flags indicating their ownership of the land and the fact that Australia is no longer Terra Nullius,"
But there was also a great deal of sadness around the ceremony due to the recent death of Kalkadoon man and noted local musician Shawn Major. Giving the welcome to country, Jenny Watts said they were saddened by her brother-in-law's death and the speed at which the cancer took his life.
"Two months he spent in Townsville, they tried three lots of chemotherapy on him but not one lot worked," Ms Watt said.
She read a poem of thanks for Mr Major written for Central State School students.
Deputy Mayor Phil Barwick also paid tribute to Mr Major for his cultural work in the city. "He made a huge impact on many people, will be sadly missed and remembered with great respect," Cr Barwick said.
The theme of this year's Naidoc Week: Voice, Treaty, Truth highlights the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices and constitutional recognition, expressed best in the sub theme "let's work together for a shared future".
"Voice, Treaty, Truth were key elements of the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart," Ms Watts said.
"These reforms represent the unified position of the first nations of Aboriginal Australians."
Melissa Eggmolesse of Gidgee Healing was the MC and there were also speeches by federal member Bob Katter and Dolly Hankin on behalf of the Torres Strait Islander community.
Naidoc Week events continue across the city all week.
READ ALSO: Cloncurry celebrates Rockhana
While you are here subscribe to our weekly email to your inbox at 6am every Friday