11/28/2016 05:24 EST | Updated 11/28/2016 05:24 EST

This Giving Tuesday, Let's Own Our Canadian Identity

MillefloreImages via Getty Images
Gift wrapped piggy bank on red white background for Giving Tuesday savings concept.

This holiday season, some Canadians may be struggling to muster up their usual festive cheer. With each new headline or breaking news story, there seems to be a pervading global climate of uncertainty, as millions grapple with uncharted courses and foggy futures.

This uncertainty is heightened by an atmosphere of increasing intolerance and worrisome rhetoric. We've seen evidence of this through viral images of offensive telephone pole posters, graffiti defaced businesses, and an overall surge in online bullying.

However, in the midst of this darkness, Canada has the opportunity to emerge as a beacon of light by proudly embracing its inclusive, multicultural values. As many have commented in the past few weeks, "Canada is most open to the world at the exact moment the world has closed."


Through Gifts of Hope you can help reach refugee and internally displaced children at the most critical time.

(Photo: Plan International Canada)

Though Canada is far from immune to the forces of intolerance, we generally still self-identify as generous, socially conscious citizens. We recently surveyed Canadians on the topic of charitable giving and a majority of respondents (67 per cent) believe that it is "Canadian to give back to those who need it most." Similarly, a nationwide survey found that the values Canadians take pride in most are equality, equity and social justice.

In this moment of unease and unrest, it's heartening that we see ourselves as the world's helpful, conscientious neighbor. Well Canada, this week we have the chance to put our money where our identity is.

It's Giving Tuesday on November 29th - a day that was conceived at the UN four years ago as an antidote to the mega-materialism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It has since grown into a giving movement, galvanizing people to mark the day by donating or volunteering their time to charitable causes.

As someone who has spent the majority of my career working for charitable organizations, I know first-hand how generous Canadians can be, never failing to step up and give back to their communities. Now more than ever, the world is in desperate need of Canada's altruistic spirit.

Though historically, only 10 per cent of charitable donations from Canadians go toward supporting international development, this could be the year this statistic shifts. Encouragingly, a third of Canadians said they would rather have a herd of goats gifted to a family in a developing country on their behalf than receive a new computer or gym membership this year.


Goat's milk means important protein for growing children.

(Photo: Plan International Canada)

This holiday season, I am hopeful that Canadians will earn their reputation for generosity and inclusion by looking beyond our borders, beyond ourselves, to support communities half way around the world.

Let's own our identity as compassionate Canadians, not only on Giving Tuesday, but every day of the year.

By giving, we show the world that we are so much more than our borders, nationalities, and political ideologies. We are part of a collective humanity and each of us has the power to challenge injustice and inequality, and positively impact the lives of those in the world around us, whether they live next door or on another continent.

Right now, many Canadians may feel overwhelmed by the challenges facing our world. But as Prime Minister Trudeau summarized at the United Nations General Assembly this fall, "We know we can't solve these problems alone. We know we need to do this all together. We know it will be hard work. But we're Canadian. And we're here to help."

As a global citizen you too have the power to help this holiday season, whether by welcoming a family of new Canadians, volunteering at a local food bank or extending a helping hand to a girl half-way around the world. Hope knows no bounds.

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