Monday, October 12, 2020

Canadian Thanksgiving and Columbus Day

Columbus Day and Canadian Thanksgiving are celebrated on the second Monday in October. In 2020 they are taking place on Monday October 12th.  In many respects these two holidays are diametrically opposed to each other. While Canadian Thanksgiving is a harvest festival, Columbus Day marks the beginning of our systematic destruction of the new world. It is hard to reconcile the start of our exploitation of the Americas with the expression of gratitude for nature's bounty. 

In 1959 Thanksgiving became a national holiday in Canada and Columbus day has been celebrated throughout the Americas since 1970.  Columbus Day became a federal holiday in the United States in 1937. However, some people have celebrated Italian explorer Christopher Columbus' since he landed in what the native Lucayan people call Guanahani (the Bahamas) on October 12, 1492.

Regardless of where we live this day is the perfect time for people to ask some important questions. We should start by asking ourselves why Indigenous people and tribal governments do not recognize Columbus Day.

While this is a time that many Canadians express gratitude for our good fortune it is also a time to reflect on the wrongs perpetrated throughout Europe's colonial history and 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, we may want 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, there is an urgency that demands we seize the opportunity to deepen our respect for the natural world and commit to working towards transformative change.

An honest assessment reveals that we cannot continue to live as we have in the past.  There is much we can learn from Indigenous people of the Americas. 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 reflect on how we can begin to redress the injustices of the past and begin working in earnest to ensure that the children of the world have a livable 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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