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Sāmoan Independence Day

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Earlier this week, I had the honour of joining the Sāmoan community in the ACT in celebrating Sāmoan Independence Day. This year marks the 56th anniversary since Sāmoa achieved independence from New Zealand. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the community for their invitation to attend the lotu, a devotional service recognising this meaningful occasion.

On 1 January 1962, Sāmoa became the first small-island country in the Pacific region to achieve its independence. Sāmoan Independence Day, however, is observed on 1 June each year, with a Sunday devotional service near that date forming an essential part of the celebrations.

The Sāmoan community in the ACT is very active and works hard to forge community connections as well as to preserve and share their unique culture. They sponsor events throughout the year, both big and small, and always play a visible role in the National Multicultural Festival.

History plays a big part in making up who we are: our traditions, our languages and our identities are all shaped significantly by our histories. At the event last Sunday, I was humbled to see that the local Sāmoan community chose a place of worship to gather together in honour of celebrating their Independence Day.

At this event, people of different faiths came together to acknowledge this special day and sing praises to God, and everyone was welcomed with hospitality and graciousness. Following the worship, attendees were invited into the hall to continue the celebration through a feast of delicious Pacific Islander food. There was a lot of happy discussion in the Sāmoan language, and I was grateful to be able to engage in these conversations with the help of a translator by my side.

I wish the Sāmoan community in the ACT and worldwide a happy Independence Day!

Madam Speaker, I would also like to take this opportunity to again urge all the members of this Assembly to personally engage with our multicultural communities. I encourage each of us to increase our curiosity and compassion so that they can get to know and understand our migrant and refugee communities better than ever before. There is much to learn from those who have roots in cultures that are different to our own and who have a desire to share the best of these as they continue to make significant contributions to our city and this nation.

In conclusion, I once again wish to express my best wishes to the Sāmoan community in the ACT, including those volunteers who sacrifice many hours of their lives to plan and execute events and serve community members. I look forward to learning from their example of generosity and kindness and being included as part of their community as they grow and continue to bless and help their community members and neighbours in this territory.

Thank you.

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