The first event in the Living Letters Team visit program took place tonight at an informal dinner with NT Church leaders. The team was welcomed to Larrakia Country by Elder Cathie Wilson.

Good Evening and welcome to Larrakia Country. My name is Cathie Wilson. I am an Elder of the Larrakia Clan.

 A warm welcome to members of the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches and distinguished guests.

 First off I would like to thank the organisers for inviting me here.

 I thank you for the respect you show us, the Traditional Custodians of the Land we stand on today.

 The Larrakia People are the Traditional Owners of the Land and Waters of the Greater Darwin Region, including Darwin Peninsula, the Cox Peninsula, most of Gunn Point, Channel Island, Rural Darwin, Darwin Harbour and adjacent Islands and land west of the Howard River and although our boundaries extend up to 50 kilometres in land we are often referred to as saltwater people.

 I wish you well for your Living Letters visit, and your endeavours.

 We thank and praise God for the gift of this beautiful country and for its first inhabitants.

 May we care for this land and for one another in a way that is pleasing to God our creator.

 In the words of another Larrakia Elder, Wally Fejo;

“You have come by way of the Larrakia Land.

You will hear the voice of the Larrakia Ancestors

And you will go taking something of the Larrakia Spirit with you”.

 On that note I welcome you to Gwalwa Daranigki – our land.

 So Mumuk!

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The World Council of Churches (WCC) will be sending a Living Letters team to visit Australia from the 12th – 17th September 2010. The visit is in response to an invitation extended by the NCCA with the view to shed light on the human rights situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and to show solidarity with the Indigenous people who feel their voices are not heard. The focus of this visit will be the impact of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER).

The invitation to the WCC was extended following a forum held in 2009 by NATSIEC. This forum brought together Indigenous Church leaders from around Australia to discuss the Australian Government’s NTER (click here for further details on the forum). The aim of the forum was to show solidarity with Aboriginal people in the NT, and to formulate a common response and plan for action. A key recommendation arising from that forum was to ask the NCCA to extend an invitation to the WCC to send a Living Letters team to visit the Northern Territory.

Living Letters are small ecumenical teams visiting a country to listen, learn, share approaches and challenges in overcoming violence and in peace making, and to pray together for peace in the community and in the world

A Living Letters team previously visited Australia in 1981 to assess the situation for Aborigines. They travelled around the country for three weeks and met with a wide number of individuals, communities and organizations. The 1981 report of this visit reflected the concerns, hopes, dreams and aspirations of Aboriginal people as heard by the Living Letters team. The report gave guidance to the Churches and hope to Aboriginal people. The independent and objective points of view were valuable to take to Government to highlight what was observed and the areas where Australia needed to do better.

NATSIEC welcomes the visit of the Living Letters team. The team of eight are Indigenous people from various countries and denominations. Delegates are coming from Bolivia, Ecuador,  Indonesia, Areatora/New Zealand,  The Philippines, The USA and Egypt and Australia.

NATSIEC will post daily updates to this blog during the visit.

For further information about WCC Living Letters click here.