As we approach Thanksgiving and this time of giving thanks, let me tell you about my 10-year-old daughter who was recently given homework to create a piece of art to recognize Orange Shirt Day in Canada. 

As part of the new curriculum to raise awareness about our shared history, she has been learning about residential schools through listening to Indigenous leaders and survivors, learning about the new National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and so much more. These school community conversations and artwork spark new awareness and action. 

giving thanks - Orange Shirt Day - Justine Sutherland

Check out the design my daughter created:

When I saw her work, I was so moved. We discussed what she was learning and decided to take a photo of her artwork and send it to Chief Robert Joseph, a close friend, colleague and one of our guest speakers for the Essential Worldview Skills program. He happens to also be one of my daughter’s godfathers. My daughter’s artwork touched him deeply and inspired further conversations and connection. 

Her awareness and action is at the heart of the Belonging Matters framework—listening to those most impacted and then together creating change for our shared future.

Giving thanks and feeling hope

Since seeing my daughter’s drawing, I have been feeling such gratitude—gratitude for Indigenous leaders, their resiliency, their tenacity, and their generosity. Leaders like Chief Robert Joseph have not only shared of themselves but they’ve also advocated for changes in our schools, health, and justice systems (to name a few) that ultimately benefit us all. 

I’m grateful that my daughter and her generation are getting the fruits of this tenacious labour of love. I like to think of our new emerging paradigm and our youngest generation as our “hopeful arrows into the future.” I am convinced that while this generation faces tremendous challenges, this generation will know our history and as a result has a greater potential to work together to build better relationships and communities.  

The Giving Thanks Teaching

This Thanksgiving, I invite you to consider what you are grateful for and what new emerging paradigm you are noticing. 

If you would like to practice the Giving Thanks teaching that our guest speaker, Katsitsionni Fox from Akwesasne Mohawk Nation, shared in our Essential Worldview Skills program, here are the reflective practices she recommends:  

  1. What are you thankful for in all of creation (notice nature and cultivate gratitude)?

  2. What are you thankful for today?

  3. How can being thankful help you navigate our rapidly changing world?

Katsitsionni Fox says that if we practice this teaching every day, we will regenerate worldviews and live in a good way with ourselves, others and all of creation. 

In this way, we will be on the path to a more sustainable, interconnected and just world. And this we can all be thankful for.

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About the Author

Jessie Sutherland

An international speaker, trainer, and consultant, Jessie Sutherland works with organizations and communities to engage diversity, build belonging and ignite intercultural collaboration. Her approach creates sustainable community change that effectively addresses a wide range of complex social problems.

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