Today, I feel the need to openly declare my gratitude to indigenous peoples. I know nearly everyone else is expressing their gratitude for being here and being able to gather with their families and celebrate everything from the death of stars (and thus, the beginning of human life) to how fantastically well-stuffed this year’s turkey is. But I owe my gratitude to Aboriginal communities.
It was the ancestors of this generation’s indigenous people, who, long before I was born on this land, were building communities, honouring the land and all that it provided them, and preparing for the the arrival of multiple future generations. And though I am not Aboriginal by blood, here I am now. My presence here, and my future, is deeply connected to the lives, work, and struggles of indigenous people before me and currently living all around me. The same is true for everyone, regardless of their individual heritage, presently living here. By living on this land my whole life, the bodies of Aboriginal ancestors have literally been passing through mine for my entire life. They are in the water, air, and soil. I breathe them in, I drink them into my body, and when I eat, I again take those ancestors into my body. All the work they did for generations, preparing for the arrival of future generations and fighting for the earth, benefits me today. The same work and the same struggles continue, and I continue to benefit. We all do.
And all that work was done knowing my ancestors were coming. They knew my ancestors would arrive here trying to flee someone else. They knew we’d stay here. They knew if we arrived in fear, we would terrorize them. And they knew we were children of the earth once, just as they are. And they still continued to prepare for the future. A future they knew would one day include people just like me (and you too).
So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all indigenous people across Turtle Island. Past, present, and future. You have all done so much for me, without even knowing who I am, and yet knowing who I have always been. You’ve known and shared my history since long before I did. You’ve fought for everyone’s right to life — to coexist peacefully — and continue to do so. And all you’ve asked for in return, all along, is my gratitude, and that I acknowledge your history and your right to live in return. For everything it’s worth, you have that from me now, every day, to my dying day and beyond. Thank you.