Student Voices: Christmas or Colonized? | Work of Arts
Student Voices: Christmas or Colonized? | Work of Arts

Student Voices: Christmas or Colonized?

An Indigenous student’s love/hate relationship with Christmas

Christmas is a strange holiday. I have always had a love/hate relationship with Christmas, as cliché as it sounds. I love the family gatherings, the food, the gifts and the love that’s shared between families during Christmas… but I feel like I’m cheating this holiday. I’m not Christian, or Catholic or Pagan, and Christmas came out of those three religions, so I sort of feel like I’m piggybacking off of other ways of being.

I’m so conflicted with Christmas. When I celebrate Christmas, I am not just partaking in a Western world tradition that makes millions every year, I’m basically agreeing to be colonized. That’s the part that doesn’t agree with me. When I open presents around the tree with my kid siblings, I’m celebrating a holiday that was forced upon us by the Catholic Church during the time of residential schools. When I eat a giant portion of turkey and indulge in stuffing and all sorts of other dishes, I’m consenting to the idea of having my indigeneity being silenced that much more. And I constantly ask myself around this time of year: Is celebrating a European holiday worth consenting to be colonized?

It’s a really thin ground to be walking on when it comes to determining what and what not to embrace in a Western colonial society, and I feel like I’m walking a tightrope, playing a balancing act between being an Indigenous woman and a Canadian woman.

Is celebrating a European holiday worth consenting to be colonized?

When I was younger, I had a lot of anger inside of me. The thought of being Canadian disgusted me, because I didn’t want to identify with a country that attempted to wipe out my entire race. I had just turned 20, and as I grow older I’m starting to evoke less anger, and a lot more critical thought about what it is that I was angry about. Instead of letting my anger drive me, I let it fuel me.

So, it still leaves me wondering… is Christmas worth being colonized? When I was 17 I would have said no, but now I have to remind myself that just because I celebrate Christmas doesn’t mean I’m giving up on everything that matters to me. It just means I get to see smiles on all of my family’s faces, and that they’re feeling the love, not the oppression. I have to remember not to let how strongly I feel about colonialism affect my happiness, because god knows colonialism has already burdened me with enough traumas — without me being upset about Christmas.

 

 

Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and viewpoints of current Arts students. Through their posts, you’ll experience the creativity and passion of our students as they present glimpses into student life. The views and opinions expressed within these posts are solely those of the authors.


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About Tarene Thomas

Tarene Thomas

Tarene is a Gitxan, Tahltan, Haisla, and Nehiyaw fourth year English major focused on Indigenous Literature. She is a poet, writer, shameless scribbler, facilitator and actor. Tarene works as an instructional assistant for the transition year program at the U of A, and also as an Indigenous peer mentor for the Faculty of Arts. Tarene is interested in dismantling the system, and writing as revolution.