In today’s age of multicultural, blended families, absentee biological role-models, and non- traditional parental figures, the word “Father” can invoke many different meanings and images. For some, the term directly translates to Step-Father or Foster-Dad, Adoptive-Dad, Big Brother, Uncle, Coach, Mentor, or even Pastor. For others, the word recognizes only a brief moment in history when a father figure changed the course of their life. Regardless of our definition, contemporary father figures may blur the rules of biology, but they are equally deserving of recognition for the roles they play in our lives.
The 3rd Sunday of June, here in Canada, is a day to reflect on our father figure(s) experiences, and to recognize and celebrate their impact, sacrifices, and contributions. Perhaps your father figure is your biological father, and a man who selflessly raised his children singlehandedly. This was the story of Sonora Smart Dodd, the original advocate of Father’s Day. After her mother’s passing, Sonora’s biological father dedicated his life to raising his six children alone on a small farm in Washington. To express her immense gratitudefor his sacrifice, Sonora tirelessly campaigned for a day dedicated to celebrating fathers everywhere.
From these humble beginnings, the spirit of Father’s Day has spread to many countries around the world. Although celebrated on different days and through many different traditions, the purpose behind the day is universal. One country, dear to my own heart, where the spirit of Father’s Day lives on, is Nepal. On “no moon day” (August 19th this year), sons and daughters can be seen travelling to their father’s home to offer delicacies and gifts, and to express their gratitude through a traditional gesture: Sons bow before their father, touching their forehead to their father’s feet; Daughters touch their heads to their father’s hands. Many Nepalese can also be found at Gokarna on this special day, a sacred place within the Kathmandu Valley where children pay homage for the passing soul of their fathers.
Regardless of what we call our father or where we physically are in the world, Father’s Day is a day to pay tribute to all fathers and father figures. It is a day for giving thanks and, this year (at least in Canada), it is a day that shares its spotlight with another celebration: National Indigenous Peoples Day. For Inuit, Métis and First Nations peoples, June 21st is a celebration of culture and achievements, a day spent with friends and family, and a time for highlighting the rich diversity within their communities.
The recognition of this diversity, much like the inclusion of all father figures on Father’s Day, is significant in our modern world. Amidst turbulent and uncertain times, it is important for us to remember the strength and guidance of our father(s), and to find meaningful ways to express our gratitude.
If you’re struggling with how to show your dad you care, consider the following ideas or allow these suggestions to spark new ways of celebrating your unique relationship:
To all fathers, father figures, and male mentors out there who have supported, encouraged, protected and cared, thank you for being you. We would not be who we are today without you. Happy Father’s Day!
Written By:Zoë Tomichich
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