I am very sorry that, due to illness, I may not be able to deliver my speech for Thanksgiving tonight. The text of my speech is below.
This is the first time we have held a Thanksgiving event at Connaught Hall. It's one of a series of celebrations from all over the world that we want to mark here at Connaught this year. We have a German culture night next Saturday, lots of Christmas activities, and a Chinese New Year celebration in January, with more to follow later.
We chose Thanksgiving for November for two reasons: First, it's celebrated by Americans and Canadians - and although the dates are different, the concept is similar. So this event will be welcomed by a sizeable number of Hall residents. Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends and togetherness. Most of our North American residents don't have the option of being with their families this Thanksgiving, and that can feel lonely. So I hope our togetherness tonight can help alleviate the homesickness that they might feel at this time of year.
The other reason we wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving is this: if you take away the historical context of native Americans helping settlers in a bleak winter on a new continent, the concept of stopping for a moment to give thanks for the things that really matter to us is universal. We all depend on the support of others. Yet it's so easy for us to take our family, friends, homes, and safety for granted; and so I feel it's important that sometimes we stop and say thank you to the people who support and sustain us in life.
At times like this we should also think about our neighbours who might need more help or support from us. Whether they are fellow residents here in hall, students at college, others in our local community, or even farther afield, can we do more to make others happier and safer?
So, in closing, I hope you will join me in taking up this challenge: to think now about those who have helped us and cared for us, the things that sustain us, and to say thank you for them - where we can, say thank you TO them. And tonight, let’s consider what more we can do to make the lives of others in our community happier so that next Thanksgiving, maybe someone will be saying “thank you” to you.