Happy Thanksgiving or Happy Harvest
Today many people will have left their place of employment wishing and being wished a Happy Thanksgiving.
The Canadian and American Thanksgiving tradition comes down to us from our colonialist ancestors who gave thanks to their God for providing them with the bounty of the New World.
History records this first celebration to have occurred around 1621 and records that Colonist and Aboriginal people shared in an autumn harvest feast together.
Since that first harvest celebration Thanksgiving Day has come to mean something very different for the Aboriginal people who continue in their struggle to coexist with us.
History records that without the help of the Aboriginal people who lived in what is now Canada and the United States those very same Colonist would have starved to death that first winter.
Little did the Aboriginal people know that they were helping to keep alive a culture that would in less than 100 years begin a systematic process of genocide directed at them.
This Thanksgiving weekend in Canada while those of us who benefited from colonization celebrate Thanksgiving the Aboriginal population lives in poverty.
Aboriginal women and children are the poorest people in Canada and 20% of the Aboriginal communities in Canada as of 2012 did not have safe drinking water.
Happy Thanksgiving for our Canadian Aboriginal communities, no I don’t think so.
Columbus Day and Thanksgiving Day for Aboriginal Canadian is experienced through these and many more historical facts:
- Small pox epidemic of brought to North America by settlers who knowingly gave their contaminated blankets to the Aboriginal people killing an estimated 90% of the population.
- Loss of traditional lands
- The 1960’s scoop of Aboriginal children who were placed for adoption in while homes
- The Highway of Tears where today Aboriginal women continue to go missing in numbers that would be unacceptable if these same women were white.
As a grandparent I want to my grandchildren to know and understand what Thanksgiving means in its full context.
I hope and pray that with this knowledge that they will help to build a different world than the one I helped to build.
Today as I left work I greeted everyone with Happy Harvest weekend, as my way of acknowledging that for many Canadians, the first Canadians this weekend is not about giving thanks.