Give the gift of solidarity this season: Alternatives to Christmas as consumerism

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Let's admit it. Christmas shopping can be the worst. Even when you avoid large chains and shopping centres like the plague. 

There's something about the obligation this particular holiday -- that, no, not everyone celebrates --has to demonstrate affection in the act of purchase, that's pretty counter to what the guy this holiday supposedly set out to celebrate supposedly spoke about.

But that's the free-market. So here are some things we can do instead, to resist it and take back the time to share with our loved ones. This is a list of ideas aimed mostly at people on the west coast, so please do add ideas for the rest of Canada in the comments section below. 

Instead of only spending our money on impersonal, ribboned packages we can:

1) Donate money to the Unistoten Camp. They will be up there all winter resisting Big Oil and Gas and plans for B.C.'s Carbon Corridor. If you have extra resources, send them up.

2) Donate money to organizations doing good work trying to end systemic violence against women, such as Battered Women's Support Services.

3) Help out the Rhizome Cafe. It could always use more friends. Become a friend of the Rhizome

4) Help out organizations fighting systemic poverty, alongside marginalized communities in the Vancouver's poorest neighborhood. Support the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre.  

5) Help refugees and immigrants facing state repression stay in Canada! Support the We Are Jose campaign to help Jose Figueroa and his family remain in Canada. 

6) Prepare for the joint review panel concerning the proposed Enbridge Pipeline, coming to Vancouver in January. Either prepare your opposition speech to be spoken at the hearings, or what you're going to chant whilst rallying outside!

7) Donate money to an organization in your community standing up for the people of Gaza, who are suffering under a blockade backed by the Harper government and are still recovering from the impacts of the most recent Israeli assault. 

8) Do what you can in solidarity with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, fighting Shell tar sands expansion and facing legal marginalization through their constitutional challenge. 

9) Donate to an any activist cause that you support. Or donate on behalf of your family in lieu of a gift.

10) Of course, in addition to helping further the struggle, we can get crafty and make holiday gifts this year. We can use our thrifty and creative skills (or maybe borrow someone else's) and recycle things we don't want, like an old sweater, and transform it into a tablecloth.

This list could go on... There is a difference between buying and giving, and we can emphasize it this holiday season. 


Tania Ehret is a contributing editor with She's been involved in all sorts of fun organizing around Vancouver, from participation in the anti-war movement to opposition to the Enbridge Pipeline. She finished Langara College in Peace and Conflict Studies and has had reports published in Socialist Worker. She believes deeply in melding the worlds of social justice and multimedia/arts, making activism accessible to as many people as possible.

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