Monday, October 9, 2017

Celebrating Oxymorons: Canadian Thanksgiving and Columbus Day

Although they co-occur, in many respects Columbus Day and Canadian Thanksgiving are diametrically opposed to each other. While Canadian Thanksgiving is a harvest festival celebrating nature's bounty, Columbus Day marks the start of our systematic destruction of the natural world.

Monday October 9th is Canadian Thanksgiving, a time to be grateful, it is also Columbus day in most parts of the new world. It is hard to reconcile the start of our exploitation of the Americas and the expression of gratitude for the bountiful harvests nature provides. 

Since 1970, Columbus day has been celebrated on the second Monday in October. As of 1959, this day is also Thanksgiving in Canada. Many countries in the New World celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas, on October 12, 1492. Columbus Day became a federal holiday in the United States in 1937, though people have celebrated Columbus' voyage since the colonial period.

Regardless of where we live this day is the perfect time for people in the new world to ask some important questions. We should ask ourselves why tribal governments do not recognize Columbus Day, while others have renamed the holiday, “Native American” day or they have named the day named after their tribe. However, this cannot right the wrongs perpetrated throughout Europe's colonial history.

While this is a time to cultivate gratitude for our good fortune it is also a time to reflect on our egregious  impacts on the natural world. As we celebrate nature's gifts we should be mindful of the origins of our exploitation and rather than celebrate conquest, the day should be seen as an opportunity to reflect on the travesty of environmental degradation. Such reflections can give way to modes of life more in harmony with the natural world.

As we ebb ever closer to irreversible tipping points, we must seize the opportunity to deepen our respect for the natural world and commit to greener living and more sustainable practices.

An honest assessment reveals that we cannot continue to live as we have in the past.  If we are to stave off the worst impacts of climate change and preserve what is left of the natural world, we must change our relationship to nature and do a far better job of stewarding our limited planetary resources.

This is a time to show our appreciation for the environment, a time to redress the injustice of the past and begin working in earnest towards a more ecological future.

Related
Environmental Gratitude and Ecological Advocacy
Thanksgiving: Living in Harmony with the Planet
A Holiday Infused with Environmental Gratitude
Thanksgiving for those who Feel Thankless
Video - Gratitude for Nature: Documentary Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg Tedx
Video - Nature's Beauty: Life is a Gift and the Only Appropriate Response is Gratefulness
Seven Ways to Make Your Thanksgiving Greener
The Environmental Toll of Thanksgiving
The Days of Overconsumption

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