GOORENG Gooreng elder Jacqui Johnson welcomed the start of NAIDOC Week on Monday at a flag raising ceremony.
The contribution of indigenous servicemen and women to defending Australia is the theme of this year's celebrations.
"We remember people who have fought for this country, in first and second world wars, in Korea and Vietnam, and of course originally, the first part of Australian history, where we had our people protecting our lands from the pastoralists and the squatters," Ms Johnson said.
''To me, that's part of the service cause and I remember those people as well."
She said until the early 1930s indigenous people were kept out of town.
"There were those who were activists who fought on behalf of our people to have the freedom to walk freely. I think about those people as well," she said.
A Brisbane-based family member of Ms Johnson, Marilyn Smith, said NAIDOC Week was a time of reflection and togetherness.
"In the business of life and work...this is one time in the year we can acknowledge our culture and survival," she said.
Tinoy Canendo was one of more than 70 people who attended the ceremony.
"Today, for me, it's a good day, a good week to remember the Australian indigenous peoples who fought for the defence of Australia," he said.
Mr Canendo's father is a Torres Strait Islander and his mother is from the Wakka Wakka tribe.
"At last, the indigenous are being recognised. I think it's a great, a great day," he said.
"My paternal grandfather was involved in the Second World War. He was recruited with the Australian Army."
Gooreng Gooreng woman Juliri Ingra said NAIDOC week was about getting together and celebrating.
"We instil pride in our young ones that we're still here after many thousands of years, as the oldest living culture in the world," she said.
Brian McKean, a Jarowair man from the Darling Downs in south-east Queensland, said NAIDOC Week was about standing up for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and continuing the fight for equality.
John Terrick, a Wurundjeri man from the outer Melbourne suburb of Doveton, also attended the ceremony.
"It's about recognition and acceptance of the reconciliation process," he said when asked what NAIDOC Week meant to him.
Gladstone independent MP Liz Cunningham, Mayor Gail Sellers and other councillors joined the community for the celebration.
The ceremony was organised by the Gladstone NAIDOC Committee at Gladstone Regional Council.
Celebrate NAIDOC Week with sport and music
CELEBRATIONS for NAIDOC Week will spill into next week, when an indigenous choir will come to town to run workshops with local elders.
But local men Jacob Tranby and Nyalong Johnson are most looking forward to this week's NAIDOC March and Deadly Choices Sports Day.
The NAIDOC March will begin at Anzac Park on Friday morning.
Deadly Choices Sports Day will be held at the netball courts on Side St.
Other NAIDOC Week events include a golf day on Thursday in memory of local woman Valerie Dempsey's late husband.
Mrs Dempsey attended the flag raising ceremony yesterday and said she was looking forward to the memorial golf day, which will be held at Calliope Golf Course.
Townsville woman Michelle Stout, who recently moved to Gladstone, was excited to be part of NAIDOC Week in Gladstone.
"It's about coming together and paying respects to our grandparents and indigenous people who fought for our country," she said on Monday.
Kailang Roberts said the week would be a great time for people to get together.
"I'm looking forward to the march on Friday," Ms Roberts said.
"It's about pride and celebration of our people."
Community events are an important part of NAIDOC Week, according to organiser Naomi Johnson.
"We wanted to make sure the community could be part of raising the flags for NAIDOC week in recognition of our people," Ms Johnson said.
NAIDOC week events
- 9.30am: Indigenous story time at Gladstone library.
- 10am-2pm: GPC aged care and elders lunch, QRI Institute Railway Social Club.
- 10am-2pm: Deadly Choices Youth Sports Day, Gladstone Netball Courts.
- Noon-4pm: QGC Memorial Golf Day at Calliope Golf Course.
- 9.30am: NAIDOC march, ANZAC Park.
- 11am-3pm: Family Fun Day, Barney Pt Beach.
- Evening: NAIDOC Awards announced.
- 7pm: Mt Druitt Indigenous Choir at Shed 19, 19 Dalrymple Dr, Gladstone.