O Canada...

London Companion | 04 Mar 2018 - 11:32
O Canada...

Albeit many people have told me that they wouldn’t live in the States even if one paid them, I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about Canada – yet. So why is Canada enjoying such a lovable status? Why will the Canadian nationality have immense value in future? 

The Canadian values

The values taught and reminded in Canadian classrooms explain this. The comparisons of these values that I can now draw against mainly the country of my second home, the still great Britain, but also other countries I’ve traveled to and know people from are interesting. So here’re just a few that interest me the most.

In Canada everyone’s included.

This principle is at the essence of why the Canadians are generally a friendly crowd. Of course, the fact that there’re misfits in every country is universally understood. But generally the Canadians are a nation much friendlier than many others. Even if their government paints matters to make them look better than they are, the Canadian citizenship literature states that Canada enjoys the status of the world’s “peacekeepers” which is realistic enough to say when you observe the behaviour of the decent citizens in daily life. May this also be why the Canadians are much mellower and subtler than their American neighbours?

Albeit there are incidents of racial tensions and inequality, in general everyday life the racial and cultural inclusion is palpable. The question ‘where’re you from?’ is asked less often and in the context of ‘what’s your background? I’m interested in and positively curious about your culture’. The vast majority of people won’t look at you with hostile undertones for your racial or cultural background. People will show interest in your culture, and it won’t take long to strike a conversation about cultural differences.


when I exhibited this attitude in Britain during my 20s, people interpreted it as either the North American happy-clappy pretentiousness or as me being a businesswoman. With life experience and hindsight I understand why they did. But I never had a motive other than that of being positively curious about another person’s racial and cultural background. In fact, years ago when I was based in London UK I had to post on my website that I would make friends with black and Asian people because the high volume of enquiries with this question made me conclude that I’d save people time if I posted this information publicly! Does that appear black and white?

People in Canada talk to each other.

It’s official – the street talk of strangers hasn’t died yet! Perhaps the reason why Toronto is one of the world’s most livable cities is that you won’t feel on guard in its streets as you do in other cities. And albeit even Toronto has its less pleasant quarters, I have never had trouble in passing through those quarters. The atmosphere in the streets of Canada is much more relaxed – some Europeans even say that it’s too relaxed. But relaxed produces happier people less on guard. You still see people smile and although grumpy faces are a global phenomenon, the nice atmosphere prevails. Many strangers greet each other in elevators and other confined places. Not always, but they do.

Are North Americans pretentious just because we say hi to strangers? Some, notably the more conservative European cultures see them as such because they interpret humanely and respectfully meant greetings as some sort of happy-clappy American superiority or optimism. But why should it be so? Just because it perhaps brings home to them that they’re stiff and grumpy? Isn’t saying hi to someone in a confined space a natural acknowledgement of another person regardless of whether you know them?

People in Canada have more respect for the environment, people, and property.

I will share two beautiful examples. A friend lived in a complex of buildings downtown Toronto which share a sports centre. The sports centre has a large pool and a hot tub. My friend and I would go for a swim as regularly as the schedules permitted. Once I forgot my swimming goggles in the changing room. I realized it 10 days later. I immediately went to the sports centre to ask whether they happened to find the goggles. The man at the desk rummaged through the lost property box and showed me 3 pairs. Neither was mine. So he sent a cleaner to look in the changing room. She brought my goggles! Now how long would a pair of goggles last in such situation in some other countries?

The second example is riding a Toronto public transit bus. Just watch a less mobile senior citizen get on the bus. Not only will the driver lower a ramp so that the person can smoothly get on the bus, but many drivers will WAIT for the passenger to sit down and then move the bus! In other cities bus drivers don’t make time for this. They hurtle on as if driving cattle in Ferraris… And in Toronto many drivers will also willingly advise you on what route to take if you’re lost, and on what route NOT to take due to maintenance etc. And it’s all done with a smile and positive attitude – in most cases. Of course there are exceptions, but don’t exceptions prove the rule?

People have more helpful attitude.

Here’s an example: have you ever traveled on public transit in any city and witnessed someone needing help in some obvious way while the whole population of the vehicle, including you, was just staring at that person as if at a spectator sport, but nobody had the courage to offer help? This attitude applies to the more unpleasant situations where the “I don’t want to get involved” syndrome kicks in… In Canada I witness people being very helpful in general. Many even read your body language to see that you look like needing help and will offer it before you realize it…

…and the best for last:

the Canadians still have pride in their country! This shows in little things such as the fact that the vast majority of people still doesn’t use public transit vehicles as toilets and litter-dumping grounds. And when finished with refreshments in coffee shops, people clear the tables before they leave! In English cities citizens happily leave this “dirty work” to the staff, some perhaps scared of getting stupid looks if they were to clear up after themselves. But then they complain that the queues are long and service is slow and there’re no tables to sit at because the unoccupied ones are dirty… Well, need I say more? Every one of us makes his country and world. We are all responsible for the world we create – nobody has any excuse.

I hope you’ve found my Cannucktions interesting regardless of whether you have lived in Canada or not. What do you observe about the countries and cultures you’ve lived in and traveled to? Tell me. I’m curious. And may even agree with you!

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