This weekend, I figured we should continue on the road to higher learning, following the trend of last week’s blog on Canadian expressions. I am proud of you all for successfully passing the course (little did you know I was keeping score). Your certificates are all in the mail. Now, we need to go beyond just sounding Canadian.
In order to truly fit in among the building blocks of different cultures and traditions, I have always found it essential to discover as much as I can such as: what is issues to they relate to, what activities do they enjoy, what should you avoid mentioning, what is the national protocol for shaving, etc. Here are some of elements – not ranked in any particular order - that make Canadians who they are.
1. Nature: Canada’s playground
For the most part, we are urban people (about 80% of us). Our daily battlefield is on the asphalt streets in between concrete structures and glass towers where we ride subways, buses and trains holding our trusty cup of Tim Horton’s coffee. Canadian civilization would disappear without coffee. We are among the better-connected civilizations in the world of communications and social media even though competition in these markets is minimal.
Many among us reward our responsible attitude and work ethic with a well-deserved retreat into the wild with our friends, our families or even just on our own. We need that escape into the country. It doesn’t matter if it is 30 degrees or 30 below outside. We enjoy the gift of nature and the space we have within our borders to hike, skate, canoe, ski, camp or anything else we can think of do to outdoors. That is time to disconnect from the technology that runs that other life we left back home.
2. Patriotism with tolerance
During my time in Europe and Latin America, I noticed that many countries’ national flags are displayed primarily in government offices or during official functions. In other countries, the flag symbolizes nationalism with a twist of exclusion. To think that days of racial and ethnic tension are far in the past is to deny a true sense of an alarming reality.
You will notice that we hang our flag high. People wear toques, shirts, jackets and caps (even hang a flag in their living room) as a sign of love and respect for a country that accepts. We are a country of immigrants – including those who left England and France to colonize the brave New World – and we are proud to continue to welcome those fleeing persecution or simply looking for a fresh start.
3. There is always time for manners
In general, Canadians are not “in-your-face” people. We enjoy peace, quiet and most importantly, personal space. I know you might be thinking: “Sounds like a land of retirees.” We know some people need a taste of the wild life, eccentric living and borderline rude behaviour, which is why we have Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. We basically treat people the way we expect to be treated. Keep it simple.
4. It’s all about hockey
Some people founded religions while others built great public works to stand the test of time. For a Canadian, it’s all about hockey. We have an NBA basketball team, an MLB baseball team, a few MLS teams, but we also have several Stanley Cups – the highest honour in the world of hockey gifted by Lord Stanley himself. Hockey and the weather give Canadians plenty to talk up a storm! Here’s a fact few people outside of Canada know: we saved the world from a nuclear apocalypse by schooling the Soviets in hockey back in the 70s. You’re welcome world!
5. Social Healthcare
Ok, sure our hospitals are not what they used to be. Our public medicine is hurting but it is still spectacular for emergency treatment. Is healthcare in Canada free because we are a bunch of commies? Nope. We pay taxes every year to keep our hospitals going, our doctors smiling and our patients out as soon as possible. There is no better feeling than leaving a hospital after an operation without wondering how on earth you will pay off a huge bill in thousands of instalments.
I hope this second course in our lesson plan sheds is up to your standards. Should you have any complaints or may be looking to demand a refund, please head on down to the Canada Post Office in the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse that closed a couple of years ago. They have plenty of time to deal with the public now. Thanks for tuning in once more my friends and see you next week!