“American” “Thanksgiving”

What even is thanks?

A transient moment of honor? an obligatory feint of humility? a recitation of blessusohlordforthesethygifts so that we can feast on turkey, or just deserts?

Or a recognition of the fact that we are largely products of circumstance, of the gifts that have afforded us the place we are now – the efforts of family, community, support systems. The structure of a system that considers us its beneficiaries (from tax cuts to access to loans to “free” land “given” to your ancestors). And of the things our historical revisionism will call “gifts” but were never given, were taken. Are being taken. Land. Dignity. Lives.

Because thanks, sincere thanks, not the kind you say when someone holds the door for you unnecessarily, places you in an ethical relation with someone else. In my philosophy, morality is not one of obligation but one of care. So… acknowledging the gifts the system has bestowed on you, what are you going to do about it?

This post was written from my home on traditional, unceded Mi’kmaq territory. The First Nations Leadership/Councils on PEI are embarking on a project called L’Nuey, which as I understand it, is a negotiation with the governments of PEI and Canada, to come to a common understanding of what the existing treaties mean in terms of Mi’kmaq rights and title. That’s cool! Also the Government of PEI’s website says that 12%(!) of the province’s land is “publically-owned and managed by the government for the good of all Islanders.” You know, uh, we could probably make a start by returning some or all of that land back.

[Correction: An earlier version implied that the First Nations Leadership/Councils only applied to the two First Nations. The L’Nuey website is clear that this project is for all Mi’kmaq on Epekwitk, not just those who are defined as Band Members by Canada’s Indian Act.]

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