When in Iowa, do as the Canadians do

Caleb Pollema-Staff Writer

The smells of Thanksgiving dinner filled the Commons this past Monday, Oct. 9. Dordt’s Dining Services sought to give Dordt’s Canadian students a great Thanksgiving meal to help minimize their homesickness.

The Canadian flag flew over the Commons as Dordt students waited to partake of this delicious meal with friends in a room filled with festive Thanksgiving decorations. For freshman Matthew Minderhoud, this day is especially exciting for him since he calls Canada home.

“It’s a celebration of what we are thankful for,” Minderhoud said. “And as a Canadian, I’m especially excited because they are serving some Canadian delicacies.”

The menu included autumn harvest rice, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, honey dill Parisian carrots, cranberry chicken, pork tenderloin, dinner rolls… and poutine.

Poutine is a traditional Canadian dish with which most Americans are not too familiar. To many Canadians like Jeremy Van Belle, poutine is a must-have at Thanksgiving.

“Poutine is like Quebec’s national food,” Van Belle said. “It’s fries and cheese curds and gravy and anything else you want to put in it.”

While many of the Canadians that attended the dinner were happy to see poutine on the menu, some, like freshman Halle Nanninga, expressed disappointment that certain other typical Canadian Thanksgiving items did not make an appearance.

“[We] usually have ham, turkey, chicken—and steak, even,” Nanninga said. “You go all out.”

Even though some students wished there were other menu options, others were simply ecstatic that this holiday is being regularly celebrated at Dordt College. It brought them a small reminder of home. For freshman and Canadian citizen Emma Bakker, knowing that she wouldn’t be home for Canadian Thanksgiving was a mixed bag of emotions.

“I kind of miss being home,” said Bakker. “But not that bad.”

Canadian students not only enjoyed the Thanksgiving meal, but also relished participating in the kind of activities they carry on back home for the holiday. Many Canadian families will typically carve pumpkins on Thanksgiving, which is a fairly common practice within the States as well.

Like Americans, Canadians will watch both football and hockey on Thanksgiving. Many Canadian students at Dordt have enjoyed watching Canadian Football League (CFL) games, as well as their Canadian hockey teams in the NHL like the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.

Many of Dordt’s Canadian students also enjoy “ski-doing” on Thanksgiving, which they say is like snowmobiling here in the United States.

But Canadians were not the only ones to enjoy the Thanksgiving meal that the Commons provided; many Americans and other internationals jumped at the opportunity for such a feast.  However, a fair number of students were puzzled as to why Thanksgiving is celebrated on a different day in Canada.

Nanninga explained that Canada is farther north so it gets colder earlier, which means that the country must harvest its crops earlier in the year. To celebrate the harvest, Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated in October instead of November.

Freshman Carter Riphagen, an American student, said that having Thanksgiving on a different day did not bother him because his roommate is from Canada, so he is used to a few cultural differences between the two countries.

Still, not all students shared the same sentiments as Riphagen; freshman Ivan Hoogland firmly disagreed.

“All Thanksgivings need to be on the same day,” Hoogland said.

Despite the mixed response, there is no doubt that all involved were thankful for an opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving—even if it is a month early.

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