The Founding, the Invasion

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Thousands of Australians protested across the country over the weekend, advocating for Australia Day to be moved and renamed “Invasion Day” to acknowledge the impact of British colonization on the country’s Indigenous communities, the Guardian reported.

Each Jan. 26, the country celebrates Australia Day, which commemorates the arrival of the British fleet in Sydney’s harbor in 1788 – and the beginning of colonization of Australia, where Indigenous people have been living for more than 40,000 years.

During Friday’s demonstrations, many organizers and speakers highlighted many of the issues that Australia’s First Nations people face, such as high incarceration rates, deaths in custody and the forced removal of Indigenous children from their families.

Protesters also called for the acknowledgment of the impacts of colonization on Indigenous communities, challenging traditional celebrations associated with Australia Day.

Commemorating Australia Day has become a topic of debate in the country of 26 million people – where less than four percent are Indigenous.

Younger generations support changing the date of Australia Day while labeling Jan. 26 as “Invasion Day” to remember the day the British arrived.

Despite growing support for changing the date, conservatives, including opposition leader Peter Dutton, have pushed back against these efforts.

Polls show a majority of Australians want to keep the public holiday of “Australia Day” but are split roughly 50-50 about changing the date, according to Al Jazeera.

Friday’s protests follow the defeat in a national referendum in October of a proposal for an Indigenous “Voice” to parliament.

The initiative aimed to establish an autonomous advisory entity tasked with offering guidance to governments regarding issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including healthcare, education and housing.

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