A very SOLE Thanksgiving

SOLE students gathered in the Student Lounge for a feast celebrating food, fun, and the community we hope to build together. Thanks to everyone who contributed, participated, and helped make our first event of the year so successful!

Welcome to our first community-wide event of the year. As has become customary in TDSB schools, I’d like to acknowledge that this feast is being held on the traditional lands of the Wendat, Anishnabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nations. This land was also traditionally used for trade and travel by the Metis Nation.

This is a complicated occasion for us to come together on these lands, as settlers, as Indigenous people, as descendents of stolen people. Thanksgiving is a celebration of the autumn harvest, and an awareness that we’re about to go into a long dark winter. It’s a time when families, of origin and by choice, share the ritual of a harvest meal. It’s also a remembrance of the impact of settler colonialism on Indigenous communities across what we currently recognize as Canada.

This is one of our shared truths: we acknowledge not only the enduring presence of Indigenous people on these lands, but we must also recognize the enduring inequities experienced by Indigenous communities and the need to move forward with reconciliation.

What does this word mean? To reconcile is to restore friendly relations between individuals, between groups, between oneself and their creator, if that’s their thing. To reconcile is to coexist in harmony, to be compatible. To reconcile, in the context of settlers and Indigenous people, is to understand this as a nation to nation relationship, one of equal, sovereign societies. It is a relationship, as Call #45 of the TRC Calls to Action states, of mutual respect and shared responsibility.

These are also lands governed by the Dish with One Spoon Treaty, in existence long before European settlement. This treaty between the Haudenosaunee and the Anishnabe peoples acknowledges shared stewardship of and responsibility for the land, the water, and the animal life. Those of us who are settlers in these lands need to commit to honouring this treaty. It is also on us to share responsibility for the care of the land and water, of our food chain, of our air.

I’m going to get political for 20 seconds: one way we can ensure we can hold those in power accountable for the wellbeing of the land, water, and all those living on and around it is to exercise our right to vote. Our municipal election is Monday October 22nd. While some of you have some time to wait before you’re able to access this opportunity, many of us in this space can use our voices to push for responsible stewardship on many fronts.