Connection to country recognised in Haig Park

Released 02/06/2020

Temporary signage to remind locals and visitors of the Ngunnawal people’s connection to country has been installed in Haig Park as part of the City Renewal Authority’s Haig Park Experiments project.

The signs have been installed during National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June).

The installations are a result of consultation with local Ngunnawal elders to determine opportunities to reconnect the urban green space with its Indigenous heritage.

City Renewal Authority chief executive officer Malcolm Snow said it was important to recognise the area’s Indigenous heritage and the ongoing contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the daily life of our city centre.

“Reconciliation is a journey for all Australians – as individuals, families, communities, organisations and importantly as a nation,” Mr Snow said.

“Every one of us has a role to play when it comes to reconciliation, and in playing our part we can together build relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures.”

One sign, installed at the entrance to Haig Park near Lonsdale Street, displays the United Ngunnawal Elders Council charter.

Ngunnawal elder Aunty Ros said the charter sign was relevant for all visitors Haig Park.

“This charter is meant for all people of all cultures and we hope you enjoy your time in the park,” Aunty Ros said.

Four other signs, designed by Ngunawal elder Wally Bell and spread out in different sections of the park, explain the cultural significance of key land features connected with Haig Park – Mount Ainslie, Haig Park, Sullivans Creek and Black Mountain.

First Nations consultation was one of the 26 projects in the Authority’s Haig Park Experiments project that started in 2019.

Through this consultation the United Ngunnawal Elders Council sought to create a place supportive of community connection and inclusion within Haig Park. As the council’s charter embodies these values, the elders felt it would be meaningful to share it with the wider community through a physical installation.

“The University of Canberra team has done some outstanding work leading the Haig Park Experiments and their engagement with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community has been an essential part of the success of the project,” Mr Snow said.

Aunty Ros, co-chair of the United Ngunnawal Elders Council, selected a eucalypt as the base for the charter sign to represent local native tree species found in and around Haig Park.

The charter has been purposefully placed at the busy Lonsdale Street entrance into Haig Park, which serves as a connection between Braddon and the Inner North. Here, the charter will welcome locals and visitors to Haig Park and set a tone of respect, understanding and humanity.

The United Ngunnawal Elders Council (UNEC) is a significant Aboriginal body providing advice to the ACT Government in relation to heritage and connection to land matters for the Ngunnawal people. UNEC is made up of representatives nominated by each of the Ngunnawal family groups.

A smoking ceremony to mark the installation of the new signs will take place at 1pm today (Tuesday, 2 June) at the park entrance near the end of Lonsdale Street, Braddon.

- Statement ends -

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