Hundreds of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people paid their respects to the victims of the Appin Massacre during a memorial service on Sunday.
The service, held at Cataract Dam Picnic Area, marked and remembered the killing of Aboriginal people 202 years ago.
In 1816 NSW Governor Lachlan Macquarie sanctioned the massacre of Dharawal men, women and children because he felt compelled to “inflict terrible and exemplary punishments” upon Indigenous people living on the outskirts of Sydney.
On 17, April 1816, 14 Aboriginal people were reportedly killed but the real number of dead was estimated to be more.
Winga Myamly Reconciliation Group coordinator Sister Kerry MacDermott said the service had a “good feel” and was a “wonderful day”.
“About 300 to 400 people attended the service,” she said.
“Dharawal descendants and young people were also there.
“There were lots of old and new faces. Some travelled from as far as Canberra, Strathfield and the north shore and there were lots of local people at the service as well.”
Sr MacDermott said the windy weather and nearby bushfire may have stopped some attending.
She said civic leaders including Wollondilly mayor Judith Hannan, councillors and Campbelltown mayor George Brticevic attended.
The service included a smoking ceremony and traditional dance performances. Attendees also enjoyed a sausage sizzle lunch.
Sr MacDermott said it was important to remember the Appin Massacre all these years later.
“The massacre happened a long time ago but it was never acknowledged then,” she said.
“It is now more important than ever to remember what happened that day – which was an act of real genocide.
“We feel the day is as important to mark as Anzac Day.
“We can’t heal the past if we don’t make an effort to remember what happened.
“We need to make sure it is never repeated again.”
Sr MacDermott said she looked forward to seeing more people at the service next year and encouraged locals to raise awareness of the importance of attending the service.