Australia Day. That ocassion where inhabitants of the big island celebrate their country. But is it a party for everyone?
What this day actually celebrates is the arrival of the British Fleet, with Captain Arthur Phillip in charge, in the 18th century, transporting more than a thousand convicts. Eventually, this fleet founded New Albion in what is now Sydney.
So basically, what this national holiday is celebrating is the arrival of white men who took the land away from its natives, the Indigenous Australians.
These Australian natives, even though they had been living there for thousands of years, were regarded by the new arrivals as “nothing.” In fact, the European conquerers considered that the land belonged to no one, which is why they could do with it as they pleased.
This day doesn’t mark a proud holiday for everyone. For Aborigines, it represents the day their people began to be treated like they didn’t belong there, their families killed, their land taken away from them. Why should they celebrate such day? Especially if we consider that what this British fleet did was migrate there, exactly what is being condemned these days. People are seen as annoying immigrants with no rights, but here, the immigrants were the Brits, and they were quick to claim that the natives were the ones with no rights.
We can see these holidays happen in other countries. In Spain and Latin America, the Hispanic Day on October 12th marks the day that Christopher Columbus discovered America on behalf of the Spanish crown, while Thanksgiving in United States has always been linked to the deaths of hundreds of Native Americans.
Plenty of people in Australia have been rallying so that the date is changed to a day that is not so controversial. Certainly, if Australia Day didn’t happen on the anniversary of the Aborigines being displaced, it could finally become a day of celebration for all its citizens, and not just the descendants of the conquerers.