Today is Columbus Day, otherwise known as Thanksgiving Day in Canada. All over the nation ovens are stuffed with Turkeys in celebration. Families are eagerly anticipating sitting down and gorging themselves as they celebrate unity and our way of life. Many will fill up on wine hoping to survive an evening with the outlaws. I thought that I would take this time to point out that though many view this as a day of celebration, what it should actually be is a day of remembrance and solemnity.
On Oct, 12 1492 Columbus landed on San Salvador which is a day that should live in infamy, as it set off the genocide of aboriginal peoples on two continents. Columbus is also considered the father of the modern day slave trade. Many people have reason to weep to this day that such an evil man ever stepped foot on the Americas.
This historic "discovery" was not undertaken in the name of science or improving the lot of humanity, but to discover a shortcut to Asia and the accumulation of wealth. Though the land clearly had inhabitants, the Spanish considered the natives to be a heathen group of sub-humans, and did not in any way validate their thriving and robust culture. In a bid to bring civilization the Spanish forced baptism, burned villages, raped women, dashed babies against rocks, disembowelled people, and burned people alive. So devastating was his arrival that within 60 years only a few hundred of what may have been 250,000 Taino were left on their island.
According to the History Channel, As governor and viceroy of the Indies, Columbus imposed iron discipline on what is now the Caribbean country of Dominican Republic, according to documents discovered by Spanish historians in 2005. In response to native unrest and revolt, Columbus ordered the a brutal crackdown in which many natives were killed; in an attempt to deter further rebellion, Columbus ordered their dismembered bodies to be paraded through the streets.
The list of horrors that he personally visited upon the New World goes on and on. The Spanish also introduced new diseases for which the Natives had no immunities and millions perished. Columbus day can only be viewed as a day of celebration if one believes that genocide is worthy of being considered a wonderful thing.
As I said at the beginning of this post, it is also Thanksgiving day in Canada. Today we should be taking the time to remember the terrible atrocities that the Canadian government committed against our Native Peoples. Our residential school system was so disgusting that it was the model that the Germans used for their concentration camps. The government has broken various treaties in the cause of land theft, murdered, slaughtered, raped and systematically brought an end to a way of life that had existed in Canada for centuries. To this day Natives are over represented in the prison population, largely live in poverty, and Native women are subject to the highest rate of sexual assault. This is also a legacy of Columbus's historic discovery.
Today as we sit down with our families, we should all have a moment of silence to remember that our bounty has come at a terrible cost. The very land that our homes are built upon is stolen land, drenched in the blood of aboriginal peoples. The way of life that we celebrate today is built on the destruction and perversion of indigenous cultures. Yes it is Thanksgiving Day and Columbus day, but it is not cause for celebration. Today is a day that should be dedicated to somber recognition at the terrible price that was paid so that we could all live in such comfort. Before you feast in celebration have a moment of silence for those that have paid and continue to pay so dearly.