Former Essendon star Nathan Lovett-Murray and VFLW vice-captain Courtney Ugle joined official partner Coles for the 2021 Little Long Walk.

The event, held in July before Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, took place at Coles’ Hawthorn headquarters and saw a healthy group of The Long Walk, Coles and Essendon staff join Lovett-Murray and Ugle in walking around the surrounding area as one.

Proceedings started with a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony followed by the walk, which proved to be a fitting way to wrap up NAIDOC Week activities.

Nathan Lovett-Murray and Courtney Ugle join Essendon, Coles and The Long Walk staff on the 2021 Little Long Walk. (Photo: Essendon FC)

The purpose of the Little Long Walk is to unite Australians and provide an opportunity for participants to reflect on Michael Long’s iconic walk to Canberra in 2004, which put the lives of Australia’s First Nations peoples back on the national agenda. 

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General manager of The Long Walk and Indigenous affairs Leanne Brooke was thrilled to have Coles facilitate the Little Long Walk.

Brooke said by hosting its own Little Long Walk, Coles is acknowledging Australia’s First Nations peoples and encouraging the Coles family to connect with, embrace and increase its understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, peoples and cultures.

 “It was very exciting,” Brooke said.

“To connect with the largest employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and have an opportunity to share Michael Long’s story and vision was awesome. 

“The Little Long Walk was a great way to connect with Coles staff and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures.

“Initiatives such as the Little Long Walk are really important to the partnership. It’s another opportunity to demonstrate in a fun, practical way the commitment both Coles and Essendon have to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

“We can’t underestimate the importance of these different touch points. When Australians participate in a Little Long Walk, they are acknowledging the First Peoples, our cultures and our shared history.”