This Saturday marks 243 parkruns at the beautiful north Brisbane bayside suburb of Sandgate. Like all parkruns across this magnificent and diverse country, we like to think that we have the best – the broad expanse of Bramble Bay on one side, majestic character homes and a history dating back many years on the other.
My name is Dean Gibson and I’m one of the Event Directors at Sandgate parkrun with my wife Vanessa and the always loyal support of our two children Hope (7) and Jed (5). We absolutely love this community and love the way that parkrun has transformed it in many special ways.
As a family, the Gibsons grab any opportunity to shout from the hills with pride about the people and achievements that constantly happen on a day-to-day basis around our streets, playgrounds and of course at parkrun. This week gave us just one of those moments and for me, it took a little bit more courage and personal significance.
This week all across Australia, communities, homes, schools and organisations are undertaking a range of NAIDOC Week celebrations. This week represents a chance to take a moment in our busy lives to really listen, watch and learn something new about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. It represents a fantastic step to understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
Now onto me. I’m an Aboriginal man. My family comes from a little Aboriginal community in Far North Queensland named Hopevale, with a population of 891. I never lived in the bush and never knew my family’s language. I never learnt the songs of the past, never gained an appreciation of the significance of land and struggled to find my own identity in this world.
Like parkrun, I think milestones like NAIDOC week represent a chance to see the best in people. We need to find these moments in life to appreciate and understand that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures can all be very diverse and that they all have some fantastic things to add to our lives. It may not be obvious today, but the more that you learn through events like NAIDOC week the better that our communities will really be communities, inclusive and free of racism and prejudice.
Along our 5km run at Sandgate parkrun, we have the privilege of running 700m of it over water along the recently upgraded and rebuilt Shorncliffe Pier. On my last parkrun I had a light bulb moment as I approached the vacant flagpole at the 2.5km turn around….we need to get the Aboriginal flag flying on the end of the Pier for NAIDOC week. After some conversations with local authorities, it came into action. Every day this week, I was raising the flag at 6am and lowering it again at 6pm. Every day I’ve been joined by members of the community who saw an invitation to join me on Facebook – most of whom aren’t Aboriginal themselves but want to embrace diversity and inclusivity in our area. Every day, I see the Aboriginal flag flying, looking gracefully across our community, our bay and our parkrun course and family – and I am proud.
Sometimes it’s the small things that get us talking, thinking and responding. I hope that this NAIDOC week you can find that small thing and really embrace something from your local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community.
Even if you don’t have a flag pole on your parkrun this Saturday, just for once – just for this week, imagine that your parkrun flag is replaced by the Aboriginal flag; black for the night sky, bright yellow sun and rich red earth.
Check with your local event to see if they are celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples this weekend.
Dean Gibson – Event Director Sandgate parkrun
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