Celebrating Thanksgiving in Canada: A Cornucopia of History, Unity, and Gratitude

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    hanksgiving in Canada is a time-honoured tradition that brings families and communities together to express gratitude and celebrate a bountiful harvest. This cherished holiday is a reflection of the nation’s rich history, a testament to its multiculturalism, and a symbol of unity. In this blog, we will delve into the history of Thanksgiving in Canada, explore its significance from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples, and highlight modern traditions that foster community togetherness. Like many such holidays, its significance has evolved over the years, however, at its core the emphasis has remained on the importance of gratitude in our lives.

    Origin of Thanksgiving in Canada

    Thanksgiving in Canada can be traced back to European explorers and settlers who arrived on Canadian shores in the 16th century. Martin Frobisher, an English explorer, is often credited with the first Canadian Thanksgiving celebration in 1578. He held a ceremony in Newfoundland to give thanks for his safe voyage across the Atlantic.

    However, it wasn’t until 1879 that Thanksgiving was officially declared a national holiday in Canada. Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a day of gratitude for a successful harvest. Since then, the second Monday in October has been designated as Thanksgiving Day in Canada.

    The Indigenous Perspective

    Native American woman looking out across the plains
    Image from Freepik

    While Thanksgiving has deep historical roots in Canada, it is crucial to acknowledge the Indigenous Peoples’ perspective on this holiday. For Indigenous communities, Thanksgiving can be a complex time, as it can stir up painful memories regarding the often dark legacy of colonialism. Many Indigenous groups view it as a day of mourning and reflection on the impact of European settlement on their cultures and way of life.

    In recent years, there has been a growing movement towards Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. This involves acknowledging the injustices faced by Indigenous Peoples, working towards healing and understanding, and ensuring that their voices are heard and respected. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, it is essential to include Indigenous perspectives in our conversations and actively engage in reconciliation efforts.

    Modern Community Traditions

    A Thanksgiving dessert with family & friends
    Image by Element Digital from Pexels

    Thanksgiving in Canada has evolved beyond its historical origins and has become a time for Canadians from diverse backgrounds to come together and celebrate the spirit of unity and gratitude. Modern traditions focus on spending quality time with family and friends, sharing meals, and expressing thanks for the blessings in our lives.

    One of the most cherished traditions is the Thanksgiving feast, featuring a delicious spread of roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, lots of gravy, and pumpkin pie. Families often gather around the table to enjoy this meal and share stories of gratitude.

    While gratitude for our blessings is important, so too is the recognition of those who are struggling for survival. With another harsh winter just over the horizon, community events, food drives, and charitable activities are common during this time, highlighting the importance of giving back to those in need.

    Final Thoughts

    A Thanksgiving feast from ABM College
    Image from ABM College

    Thanksgiving in Canada is a multifaceted holiday that encapsulates the nation’s European origins, its commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and it is dedication to unity and gratitude. While it is essential to acknowledge the holiday’s historical origins, it is equally important to respect Indigenous perspectives and actively work towards healing the scars of the past. 

    Modern Thanksgiving traditions, centered on family, friends, and community, emphasize the significance of gratitude in our lives. As Canadians come together to celebrate this special day, it serves as a reminder of the values that bind us as a nation: compassion, unity, and an enduring spirit of thankfulness.

    From all of us at ABM College, we extend our warmest Thanksgiving greetings to all Canadians! May your long weekend be filled with love and laughter surrounded by those most important to you. Happy Thanksgiving! 


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