Australian fashion designer Pip Edwards has apologised for “celebrating” Australia Day at a BBQ just hours after posting an Instagram story in support of the Change The Date movement.
On Tuesday, Edwards posted a screenshot of a letter-to-the-editor snippet that argued Australia should change the date of its national holiday and not celebrate the anniversary of the invasion that resulted in the genocide of First Nations people.
Edwards wrote in the post: ‘IN BLACK AND WHITE’, seemingly endorsing the letter’s message.
Hours later, the PE Nation founder shared images from a small BBQ gathering at a residence on Sydney Harbour and was instantly called out for contradicting her earlier post.
The Daily Mail reported Edwards originally captioned her January 26 BBQ picture on her Instagram feed: “A day to celebrate the land that we live and thrive on. I love you, Australia,” which was later updated to “Acknowledging the beautiful land that we live and thrive on.”
The Aboriginal flag was also flown upside down at the gathering.
The red on the flag represents the red earth and First Nations peoples’ spiritual relation to the land. The yellow is the sun, the giver of life, and the black represents the Aboriginal people.
The red is meant to be on the bottom and the black on top.
Followers were quick to express their views.
“Come on Pip. Read the room babe. You literally just posted on your story that today is not a day to celebrate “in black and white” and then you post this?” one person wrote.
Another posted: “Have fun celebrating. Your privilege rings true. Meanwhile, our pain and sorrows are felt for weeks leading up to this day.”
Another Instagram user said: “How tone deaf can someone be?? How many photos of your privileged celebration can you post before you realise that the article that you shared tells us that today is NOT a day to celebrate?”
Edwards apologised on Wednesday.
“I want to express my sincere apologies to those that I have offended,” she said on Instagram.
“My intentions were always from a good place, in support of all people, wanting unity and community in this country and globally. I innocently did not realise that the Aboriginal flag was upside down and was more focused on the idea of raising both flags together on the one pole, flying as one. I understand it was a huge mistake to not know at the time but my intention was never to cause disrespect. I then made the error of incorrectly using the word “celebrate the land” when it should have read “acknowledge”. Again, a big mistake on my part and for that I deeply apologise.”
Edwards has turned off comments on her latest post.
January 26, also known as Invasion Day, marks the beginning of the marginalisation of First Nations Australians and marks 233 years of violence and intergenerational trauma for people with Indigenous heritage. On that day, Australia ceased to be controlled by the people who had lived here and maintained the land for more than 60,000 years.
Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face more social, health and employment disadvantages than other Australians. January 26 is a reminder that their sovereignty over the land was never recognised, that there were never any treaties and that First Nations folk are still not acknowledged in the Constitution.
This year, many celebrities, including Chris and Liam Hemsworth, Jesinta Franklin and David Campbell, have spoken out about not celebrating on January 26.
Conservative politicians, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, have repeatedly stood by the opinion that Australia’s national day should be celebrated on January 26 despite it being the anniversary of massacre and dispossession for Indigenous Australians.