Stan Grant appears in traditional markings for The Vigil at Sydney Festival – after speaking out about changing the date of Australia Day
Prominent TV presenter Stan Grant has demonstrated his strong identification with his Aboriginal heritage by appearing in traditional body paint.
On Monday, the 57-year-old took part in The Vigil at Sydney Festival on Australia Day Eve.
Alongside fellow indigenous people, the television presenter participated in a ‘Reclaim’ performance at at Barangaroo Reserve in Sydney.
Pride: Prominent journalist Stan Grant has always been proud of his indigenous heritage, and on Monday the 57-year-old took part in The Vigil at Sydney Festival on Australia Day Eve
He wore an armband and traditional markings on his face and body, along with a pair of denim shorts, for the moving performance.
This marks the third year of The Vigil, which acknowledges the continent’s indigenous history, in contrast to Australia Day, which marks the 1788 arrival in Sydney Cove of the First Fleet of British settlers, soldiers and convicts.
Show: Alongside his fellow indigenous people, the television presenter participated in a ‘Reclaim’ performance at at Barangaroo Reserve in Sydney
Annual event: This marks the third year that The Vigil has taken place, and it is a time to reflect on Australia’s Indigenous heritage, ahead of Australia Day Celebrations
Stan discussed the importance of the ceremony’s importance in a column for the ABC, writing: ‘I gathered with other Aboriginal people for a vigil to mark the night before the ships came.
‘We stood with each other and the spirits of our ancestors who on this day in 1788 stood on the cusp of a new world.’
‘We came together because we have survived. Our warriors danced a dance of defiance and strength. We stood together not to mark Australia Day, but who we are.’
Powerful: Stan opened up about the experience in a column for the ABC, writing: ‘I gathered with other Aboriginal people for a vigil to mark the night before the ships came’
‘We came together because we have survived. Our warriors danced a dance of defiance and strength. We stood together not to mark Australia Day, but who we are,’ he continued
The date of Australia Day has long been a sore point for Aboriginal people, with many referring to it as Invasion Day and saying the British settlement in Sydney began indigenous dispossession and should not be celebrated.
However Mr Grant said changing the date of the National Day would create its own problems.
In 2019, Mr Grant wrote a piece published in The Weekend Australian magazine, which said a changed date risked leaving January 26 as a day solely honoured by white chauvinists and that risked making it more divisive.
Thoughts: In 2019 Stan debated calls to change the date in a piece published in The Weekend Australian Magazine
He added that some Aboriginal people would not be placated by any date change or other reconciliation efforts.
‘I fear moving the date would only hand it to those who would reclaim it as a day of white pride, turning it into a bombastic day of division,’ he wrote.
‘There are also those indigenous people who cling to Nietzsche’s ”politics of resentment”, whose identities are so wedded to grievance that to relinquish their anger would be to lose their sense of themselves: moving the date would not satisfy them.’
Reasons: Critics have argued that Australia Day marked the beginning of great suffering and torment for indigenous people and should not be celebrated
Instead, Mr Grant said the date was a second-order issue, and more fundamental questions of national identity needed to be addressed.
‘Australia is more than a day, it is more than a date – whatever that date may be. Moving the date or abolishing Australia Day does not answer the question, who are we?’ Grant writes.
The TV identity said he had personally wrestled with how to feel about Australia Day, as he has a pride in Australia but also his family had suffered.
Candid: Stan argued that abolishing or moving the date did not change the identity of the nation and who we are as people