Does Canada have culture?
By Jessica Berget, Assistant Editor
I feel people believe in many contentions strongly without fully analyzing them with a logical lens. One of those beliefs as of recent is that white people, all Western society—and specifically Canada—has no culture. As a Canadian born white person, I have trouble swallowing this particular pill because I’ve been living here my whole life. If my country has no culture, then what is culture?
At the beginning of my college career, I took Anthropology classes in which we studied cultures. In them I learned what makes up a culture and how it can be loosely defined as the social norms, arts, achievements, and social institutions of a particular social group. Under this definition, you would think that the West or more specifically Canada with its many different provinces, achievements, political systems, customs, social standards, and arts would fit the bill, but some might need more convincing.
Canadian and American (or what many consider Western) culture may not run as deep or have long roots dating back to thousands of years ago, but that doesn’t mean they are culture-less. Places like India, China, Africa, etc., all have rich histories and cultures because they have been around for so long. For Canada specifically, it was recognized as a country just 153 years ago, so the culture is new, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a culture at all.
We may not have customs or traditions from 1000 years ago like other countries, but we do have social norms and traditions here that wouldn’t make sense anywhere else. Canadians are known for being polite or passive and saying “sorry” frequently, we listen to Canadian classic rock and pop music on the radio, we have social standards that dictate what we do and how we act in public, we have arts, dances, and cuisine like poutine (and where else can you get ketchup and dill pickle chips?)—if those aren’t examples of our culture, then I don’t know what is.
Canada and its provinces, cities, and small towns even have their own culture. Vancouver has a vastly different culture than other Canadian cities like Toronto or Montreal. They each have their own set of beliefs, traditions, social norms, and different topography of people who live there which influences their standards and cultural norms. Culture happens wherever people are, so I would argue every city, town, country, streets, neighbourhoods, and even workplaces have their own unique culture. To say white people (or Western society or Canada) has no culture ignores the hundreds of years of history and achievements of French, British, Norwegian, Russian, Irish, and other societies.
In Canada, we have a multicultural melting pot of people from Europe, Asia, India, Africa, and many other countries. Doesn’t this unique combination of people from many cultures and their norms, traditions, and cuisines combined into one society all living in the same country and sharing and celebrating these cultures count as a culture as well?
Sure, you can say you don’t like Western culture or that you prefer a different one, but I think to say the West or Canada has no culture is just plain false.