The Canadian identity
I believe that Canada lacks a real national identity. Canadians tend to identify with community and region rather than the nation. Because Canada has such a great cultural diversity the Canadian identity is shaped by our values and attitudes as they have emerged from our history and geography. Bilingualism and multiculturalism are very important to the Canadian identity. They both strengthen and challenge Canadian identity. Because Canada has so many cultural and regional groups, interaction between them influences one¹s identity. Differing views of Canada by Canadians and other countries prove that Canada does not have a true national identity. Because of these factors Canada lacks a national identity, one which everyone can recognize.
When someone asks a Canadian what his nationality is, he does not reply, ³Canadian², instead, ³German², ³Scottish² or ³Ukrainian². This is because we as Canadians do not see ourselves as distinct Canadians. We need to have a common idea of what it is to be Canadian rather than always identifying with the place we came from. We identify with community or region over nation. To gain a Canadian identity we must learn to identify with a nation, Canada. This is one of the main reasons we lack a Canadian identity, because we as Canadians do not really think of ourselves as Canadians. We may be Canadians but we think of Canada as a place of refuge rather than a home. This ties in with our lack of patriotism. Many Canadians that I know, come Olympic time or another big world competition, rather that cheering for Canada, will cheer for their home country. A reason for this is because of our multicultural society. Because in Canada, Œanything goes¹, there is no push to be Canadian. So they can do what they want and carry on with their cultural traditions. Because there is really no Canadian identity to begin with, it makes it all the easier for them to carry on as they wish. This explains why people who are Canadian citizens tend to identify more with community or region than with Canada.
Canadians all have different values and traditions, like any country, but in Canada there is a great diversity of values and traditions. This makes it harder for people to identify with each other. Alexander and Pearl eat the traditional cabbage rolls and perogies every other day. Franz and Augusta on the other hand would much rather have their traditional sauerkraut and strudel. It is because of differences like this that Canada can not have it¹s own identity. When different cultural groups each have their own way of getting things done because of the way they were brought up, it is almost impossible to have a true Canadian identity. Over time the traditions of the different groups will blend but until then, Canada can not have a real national identity. It can be argued that the differences in cultural values and traditions are an aspect of the Canadian identity, but I feel that a Canadian identity is one which everyone can relate to and see in their own life. To me, a Canadian identity needs to be shaped by different values, traditions and cultures that have emerged from history to create a truly Canadian identity.
Bilingualism and multiculturalism can be good for, but also challenge the Canadian identity. These policies challenge the Canadian identity because they allow people to keep their culture. I feel a true identity is one which everyone can relate to, when everyone keeps their culture it is harder to have a true Canadian identity. It would be much easier to have a national identity if our country was unilingual and unicultural, because there would be one common way of getting things done. On the other hand, with these policies others see us as a country that does not force others into a certain culture, they can keep their culture if they want. Because of these policies we gain popularity with other countries. That is the view other countries would have of Canada, which again shows that there is really no national identity. The bilingual and multicultural policies are ones that play a significant role in the Canadian identity.
Because Canada has so many different cultural groups, interaction between them can influence or change the Canadian identity. In Canada, although it is a multicultural society, there is a lot of integration, people sharing bits and pieces of their culture with each other. Sometimes it is sharing recipes or inviting friends over to help celebrate Ukrainian Christmas. All of this has an affect on the Canadian identity.
Canadians from different parts of the country and people from different parts of the world have different ideas on what the Canadian identity is. This gives the idea that there really is no national identity. People from other countries tend to see Canada as one of the best places in the world to live. They say that Canadians are nice, mannerly, polite, and law abiding among many other things. The United Nations went as far as to say that Canada was the best country to live because we rank very high in life expectancy, average level of
education and average per capita income. We have a great world reputation as being helpful and a very key component of UN operations. We have been said to be a world role model and a model for multiculturalism, something many Canadians are worried about and bicker over. Canadians tend to worry too much about the little things, when there are better things to worry about like trying to find an identity. Canadians in the West feel alienated by the East and think that they are not cared about, that they do not have an equal opportunity with those in the East. Those in the East think the Westerners are treated the same and that there is nothing for them to be upset about. Canadians as a whole do not see Canada the way the other countries do. Canadians don¹t think we are as great of a country as we really are. The country of Canada lacks a true national identity, partly because of all of the different views of Canada.
Because of many factors, Canada lacks a real national identity. Canadians identify with community, region, but rarely a nation. Values, attitudes and cultures of different groups shape identity as they have emerged from our history and geography. Bilingual and multicultural polices which help people preserve their own cultures can also have an affect on Canadian identity. Interaction between groups and people that have different views on Canada can influence the Canadian identity. Even though people have their own idea of the Canadian identity, Canada lacks a true national identity, one that is clearly Canadian and can be recognized by anybody, anywhere.
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