Today is Thanksgiving weekend and orients our season of Thanksgiving. This weekend is usually when I know that we are fully into Fall. There is a crispness in the air, the leaves are changing colour and falling from the trees. Not unlike other times this is when many of us travel to re-connect with family around turkey dinners and warm fires. In our house this also marks the beginning of a never ending season of pumpkin pie. Nothing wrong with pumpkin pie, only by the time December roles around I am more than ready for something else . . .
As we gather with friends and family we reflect and give thanks for our opportunities and all that Canada has provided to us. I wonder what brought you to Canada?
For me, coming to Canada meant many things. It was certainly an opportunity to reconnect with family on my mother’s side. She having been born and raised in Montreal had moved to South Africa as a young adult, never really intending on staying in South Africa, that is until she met my father. The rest as they say, is history.
I never realized just how good at Math I was until I arrived in Canada. For some reason, my solid near passing grade in South Africa turned into a respectable C+ in Canada. Probably because what I was doing in Grade 11 math in Canada, I had already done in South Africa the year before. So Canada offered better and more variety of career and university opportunities. But it wasn’t until we were into our first year living in Canada that I never really knew what freedom felt like.
I remember our first night in Salmon Arm. We, being a very contentious family, had made sure that all the doors and windows were securely bolted and the outdoor lights, all of them, were turned on. The next morning as more parishioners came to welcome us to town, they commented on how all our outdoor lights were on. They were amazed. Apparently this is not necessary in Canada. We realized very quickly that we were in a different world all together. A world where windows did not have burglar bars, drive ways were not secure with electric gates, you could even leave your car idling while you dash into 7 Eleven or pick up the mail from your roadside PO Box. In South Africa, this is a car jacking that is too easy to pass up. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was the realization that so many of our neighbors never locked their doors when they left for the day. This is something we only just - sort of kinda - got used to when we lived in Robson. In Robson there are many people who never own a key to their homes. When they leave for the day or even vacation, neighbors would keep an eye out on all the comings and goings. It wouldn’t be unusual for someone to come up to you and say, “you’re not from around hear are you? Are you lost?”
We are privileged to live in Canada for Canada is our chosen home. For many of us, we too have come from other places in search of a different life with new and different possibilities. Some of us intended to stay for a short time, only to find that we have spent a life time here. For others we have come because of family, education, work, an adventure and other possibilities. For others still, we were not the ones who moved, we were born here but have roots in other places. Regardless of the reasons that have brought us here, Canada is our land, our home that is “flowing with milk and honey” (Deut. 26: 9). This is a day and season where we pause to give thanks for how we have been blessed in this land. A land that is foreign to us no more, but a place where we call home.
While we give thanks for our lives and the privilege of calling Canada home, we too need to remember those who do not enjoy the freedom and opportunities that we enjoy. We need to remember the refugees that line borders around the world in search for a taste of freedom and peace. A life where they do not need to live in fear. We remember too, this day that we are guests on this land and that there were people, cultures and nations that were here first. For them we give thanks and commit ourselves to live better in harmony with the First People of Canada.