As we celebrate National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on 4 August, Al Siraat hosted a special screening of the must see documentary film BEFORE 1770 at Village Cinemas, with the audience made up predominantly of young people.

The film, which explores Australia’s Muslim history was directed by Sheikh Wesam Charkawi.

A beautiful opening prayer was made by Mohammad Jalil Sarwar from Year 10.

The Welcome to Country was performed by local Indigenous Muslim Elder, Brother Andrew Hassan Gardiner. Uncle Andrew also gave a very passionate speech of how he is personally invested in this film which highlights the shared history between the Makassan Muslims and the First People of Arnhem Land, the Yolngu dating back long before 1770.

Co-founder of Al Siraat College, Ms Rahat Arain gave a welcoming speech and spoke about the importance of truth and truthtelling as well as the responsibility each of us has in sharing the truth of our Australian history.

Ms Mouna, a member of the production team of the film BEFORE 1770, gave a very inspiring speech about the empowering message of belonging the film gives to young Australian Muslims. She stated, “Our Muslim ancestors had a rich and long connection with the Aboriginal people of this land for hundreds of years before white settlement.”

Mr Fazeel Arain, Principal and co-founder of Al Siraat College, shared his reflections from the film and talked about his own upbringing and experiences of discrimination. He gave students several examples of ways young people can advocate for change in their communities and participate in greater Indigenous engagement.

Following the screening, guests had an opportunity to share reflections and ask questions of the speakers.  Ms Noori Ahmed, SRC and Interfaith Leadership coordinator was acknowledged for her support in facilitating these important programs.

This program had originally been planned as a part of the Interfaith Youth Forum project to take place during Reconciliation Week but was postponed due to the snap lockdowns and subsequent COVID restrictions in Melbourne.  The reduced numbers at this event were in line with Covid restrictions at the time. 

Another screening of BEFORE 1770 is scheduled to take place at Village Cinemas, open to local schools, Interfaith partners and community leaders once restrictions ease further in Melbourne.

The moving documentary film, BEFORE 1770 is a must watch for all Australians and a valuable resource for all Australian schools.