First “Welcome to the country” at the French Embassy

On May 2, 2024, the Embassy of France in Canberra organised its very first Welcome to Country, led by  Paul Girrawah House, a First Nation artist [Ngambri-Ngunnawal] in a moving ceremony in the gardens of the Residence.

Mr. Pierre-André Imbert , the Ambassador of France to Australia,  stated that this event was a “symbol of mutual respect and a reflection of our commitment to forging a sincere and dynamic relationship with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

A magnificent wooden sculpture created by Mr. House on a trunk of one of the trees of the Residence garden  was unveiled in the presence of a group of representatives from Australian First Nations peoples and leaders in the cultural field.

The bond between French and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples started 200 years ago with the expeditions of Lapérouse, Baudin, and D’Entrecasteaux. In Tasmania, their research even led to the creation of a dictionary of 500 indigenous words.

During her visit to Melbourne, last December,  the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Catherine Colonna had presented a valuable collection of digital archives related to the Palawa peoples to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, ahead of the establishment of the French-Australian Cultural Exchange Foundation.

You can find a podcast from SBS Radio on this topic right here.