An immigrant asks about Thanksgiving

On Thursday, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day. For some immigrants in North America, the holiday can be intriguing.

My friend and colleague Ben Viccari, publisher of the online Canscene service (Canada's Multicultural Scene), recently posted an interesting commentary he wrote about one man's curiosity about Thanksgiving Day and Remembrance Day. I found it fitting to reproduce it on this occasion. 

Ibrahim Wants To Know

 It says something about the heritage shared by Americans and Canadians and the gap that sometimes exists in the understanding of that heritage with some newcomers. In a taxi driving me home last month, I found Ibrahim, the driver, conducive to conversation and asked him how he’d fared during the recent Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.

Not badly, he said, but then asked me the true significance of Thanksgiving Day. I used as a comparison, Eid, the feast that ends the month long Islamic month of fasting. But I had to tell him that unlike Ramadan and Eid, our Thanksgiving had strayed from its religious past into a far more material world.

Just before our trip ended, he asked me the meaning of Remembrance Day and I could do little better than refer him to sources of information at his local public library. I would have needed a ride to North Bay to have explained all the ramifications of two world wars which failed to bring peace to humankind.

We do our best to help newcomers adjust to life in Canada, finding shelter, jobs and understanding what’s legal and whats not. However, in the intensity of zeroing-in on the target, could we be overlooking other opportunities to help them know and understand Canada? Warts and all?

-By permission of Ben Viccari

Coming up on Zanepost:  Six Myths About Thanksgiving 

Ben Viccari is past president of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association.  To learn more about Ben, see this article. The link to Canscene is above.
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