Make Giving Count

The Christmas season is fast approaching and people who celebrate the holidays are trying to find ways to make it meaningful when so much is different. We are a resilient lot though, and it’s wonderful to see how people are finding creative ways to make it work.

Rather than focusing on what we can’t do, many are finding things they can do. Video calls with family are replacing large gatherings. Intimate phone calls with friends in place of parties. Connecting with neighbours from a safe distance.

I recently discovered other ways to make Christmas more meaningful this year. In fact, it is making this season one of the most heartfelt in years simply by making giving count.

I have shopped at Amazon in the past and still do for things that I truly can’t get anywhere else. The difference this year is that I am doing whatever I can to shop locally – preferably at mom and pop shops – before even looking at big retailers. I am also finding creative ways to support charities and causes that I am passionate about.

It takes a bit more effort. But wow, is it worth it!

For one thing, you can find truly unique gifts when you look in smaller stores and seek out local artists or entrepreneurs. Many gifts are handmade, high quality and at reasonable prices.

When you buy something from a small business, you see the heartfelt gratitude in their eyes and hear it in their voices. You can feel good knowing your purchase will help them stay open during unstable times. There is no better feeling of community.

Yes, you may have to pay a few dollars more to shop local (they just don’t have the huge customer base to set lower prices) but it shows you truly care about the people and businesses in your community. That says something. Remember, those same small businesses also support your local economy including donating to your kid’s sports teams, charity silent auctions, etc.

This season, you may also want to consider giving to a local charity as a gift for the hard to buy for person. Local food banks are truly hurting this year and need our support as do so many other charities. And if you have a cause, movement or activity that you are passionate about, find ways to support them at Christmas too.

If you read my posts, you will know that my passions are being eco-friendly and the Truth and Reconciliation movement in Canada. I consider both in my gift giving.

By buying gifts locally I am reducing packaging and travel emissions and, therefore, reducing my buying footprint.

I want to support local Indigenous crafts people and was delighted to find a wood turning artist from Ta’an Kwach’an First Nations (Yukon) living in my city! I found the perfect gift in my price range and now have a new connection and business that I will continue to support.

Charity wise, this year myself and a group of other women went together to purchase gifts for over 20 Indigenous girls (ages 10 to 18) who attend a non-profit organization for girls living in poverty and/or other challenging circumstances. In addition, I will support the local adopt-a-family and toy donations in my city.

Giving a gift that matters is so simple and can truly make a difference this holiday season and all year through. I hope I have inspired you to give it a go. If you do, I would love to hear your story!

We Will Remember… Residential Schools!

People in Alberta (and hopefully Canada) have heard by now that a draft document was leaked to CBC about the Alberta UCP government’s proposed education curriculum. The expert’s (12 hand-picked people who spent 8 days together) advice was to erase Indigenous history from the Alberta school curriculum saying it was too disturbing for children to learn about residential schools. While I agree that education needs to be age appropriate, to erase the history around residentials school in education is taking a huge step backwards. I have sent letters to our Premier, Minister of Education and my MLA stating that.

While thinking about this yesterday, I read a Facebook post by Janice Makokis from Cree Nation. In it she shares a conversation between her father and her 6 year old son on this very topic. Janice has graciously given me permission to share her post here.

I’m inspired to share this for two reasons. First, it provides a unique perspective on this subject. How would YOU feel if it was your history being eliminated? Second, we should ALL be having this conversation with our kids. Imagine what our country would look like if our children grew up understanding the truth.

Janice Makokis’ post (Oct 22, 2020)

Just a quick rant on this ridiculous argument (it’s too sad/ hard for children to hear) the AB UCP government is using to essentially erase Indigenous voices/ perspectives on residential schools in the current AB curriculum review.

Last night, me and Atayoh (who is 6yo) went hunting with my dad. My dad always shares teachings or childhood stories when we travel together or when we go do land based activities. So yesterday, my dad starts to share some stories from his childhood about being in school at Blue Quills and in St Paul. He shares an incident when the teacher took his ear and pulled/ twisted it for punishment for doing something. Atayohs response went like this “Moosom poppa, why would a teacher ever do that? That’s cruel/ mean. Do teachers still do that today?” Then my dad has to explain [in] simple terms about residential schools and what they did there. Then Atayoh said “Mommy is that against the law to hurt children – like what that teacher did to moosom poppa?” And I said yes my boy. Then he said “Well if they broke the law and children were hurt shouldn’t something have happened to those bad people that hurt the children?” The questions and explanations carried on a little bit longer but he knew what was going on.

It’s a gross misrepresentation of the AB UCP to assume children are incapable of understanding and processing these moments in our history that are necessary for every child to learn/ know. This is how we change our collective futures so we co-exist together in peace and friendship, the way the Treaties intended for us to live. In fact, children are incredibly intelligent in connecting feelings, emotions and experiences when explained in a way they understand. We can teach them about social justice, anti-racism and indigenous history/ perspectives from a place of understanding and empowerment to dream a better future for all of us.

So I don’t want to hear the lame sorry excuse that children can’t or won’t comprehend this tragic complex history, because they can and they do. My 6yo is a testament to being the third generation survivor of residential schools and he knows what happened because we have taught him.

Alberta, do better – stop the excuses because you know better.

Yes, we can do better Janice.

I hope that every Albertan and every Canadian stands up and makes their voice heard. We need to learn the truth. We all need to remember the thousands of children who were abused and survived, and especially those who never made it home.

As Janice says, “This is how we change our collective futures so we co-exist together in peace and friendship, the way the Treaties intended for us to live.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation revealed the names of 2,800 children who died in residential schools Monday at a ceremony in Gatieau, Que. A 50-metre long cloth bearing the names of the children who died was unfurled. The event was intended to break the silence over the fate of at least some of the thousands who disappeared during the decades the schools operated. (September 30, 2019.)

Photo source: Provincial Archives of Alberta – Students at Blue Quills Residential School

%d bloggers like this: