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  • Protestors take part in an Invasion Day Rally on Australia Day in Sydney, Australia, Jan. 26, 2019.

    Protestors take part in an Invasion Day Rally on Australia Day in Sydney, Australia, Jan. 26, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 26 January 2019

Every year, thousands of Australians spend the 26th of January protesting for the national holiday's date be either changed or abolished altogether.

Thousands of people protested Saturday across Australia, demanding the date of the national holiday, which is celebrated on Jan. 26, be changed given the link to the ill-treatment of the country's Indigenous peoples.

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On the 26th of January 1788, the British “First Fleet” sailed into Port Jackson, New South Wales, and declared the land unoccupied, despite encountering Indigenous peoples, who had been living on the continent for about 50,000 years.

The Indigenous peoples of Australia refer to the date as “Invasion Day,” which has sparked widespread debate over how to reconcile different views of the country’s past.

Every year, thousands of Australians spend the 26th of January protesting for the national holiday's date be either changed or abolished altogether.

"No matter what day you change it to, it'll still be a day of oppression and mourning for us. So I think deleting it altogether is the way to go," Lareesa, an Indigenous woman who attended the “Invasion Day Rally” at Melbourne, said, according to ABCnet.

In 2018, however, the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected appeals to change the date of Australia Day. Instead, he suggested May 27 as the new national day for Indigenous peoples.

In Sydney, the capital of Australia, thousands of people rallied to note that the 26th of January stands for the first day of the British colonial aggression against over 500 Indigenous nations.

“We acknowledge that today is not the day to celebrate the many achievements in Australia but reflect on the reality of invasion and what the First Nations people continue to suffer today... We don’t [just] need to change the date, we need to change the systemic problems, we need to change the country,” David Shoebridge, a New South Wales Greens congressman, said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Support for the Invasion Day Rallies has grown over the years. “Australia Day” was first celebrated in 1935 and has been routinely contested by Indigenous peoples, since 1938.

Now the Invasion Day demonstrations provide opportunities to show the world that Indigenous peoples are still made invisible in Australia.

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