Examining Canadian stereotypes
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
Canada has an unclear national identity. Our shared loves are not for values, but for material things—maple syrup, Tim Horton’s coffee, and hockey, eh?
In an era of social justice, it is time to evaluate what really matters to Canadians. What do we really value besides our brands? What is “the Canadian way”? What does the Canadian identity mean to oneself, and to the world?
Canadians may be smug and seemingly united in their perceived progressiveness, but the country remains fraught with the same problems that plague most societies. On social and economic issues, Canadians are generally divided, with more support for conservative values in rural areas and a liberal leaning in major cities. Canada may be accepting more refugees than our neighbouring country currently, but distrust and opposition to refugees continues to be popular among many citizens. We may have an international image of tolerance after electing Justin Trudeau, but Canadian opinions will forever be divided no matter who the prime minister is.
We may be known for our politeness and saying “sorry,” but how much of that is just a stereotype? Many Americans are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Many Canadians are incredibly rude. Canadians can be just as intolerant, mean, and corrupt as citizens in any other country. On the other hand, we can also be just as peaceful, progressive, and patriotic.
There is often a self-deprecating guilt at being too conscious of ourselves, but perhaps Canadians should embrace how great we are. Our current global role and image is a very positive one. Canadians are respected almost universally internationally and we are praised for our peacekeeping and tolerance. It’s something more to be proud of than jokes about our cold weather and how we like to apologize. We are currently shining even brighter in light of our neighbour’s sudden and shocking new president.
Perhaps Canada’s ultimate identity will be uncovered in its role on the world stage in the next five years. The current US political climate is unpredictable and unlike anything ever seen before. International tensions, sovereignty, and the migrant crisis all provoke a significant response. We are a G7 country and vying for a spot on the UN Security Council. We may soon find a bigger economic role as American isolationism begins to take hold. Our reactions to global tensions, refugees, and our role in an uncertain era may ultimately be what brings us together.
Canadian society’s internal conflicts, most notably systemic oppression, will take a long time to fully dismantle. We may never be as progressive as some European countries, or as economically successful. We may never fully accept different lifestyles or completely extinguish the intolerances that have plagued societies everywhere for thousands of years. But we can certainly aim to become better by becoming united, and I like to think that we will.