What comprises the true Canadian identity?

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While living in Ireland the last two years many of my friends have asked me point-blank, "What makes Canadians different from Americans?" More than a few times I have been amazed by how familiar the Irish, and Europeans in general, are with the United States and how thoroughly Canada has remained a mystery to them. Having grown up in a border town saturated with American media and tourism, I might have been slow to answer at times, though I have always been sure to reply. And while I have mulled this question since the first time I was asked it, I'm curious what others from around Canada have to say about this.

-- Matthew (mattamand@hotmail.com), February 01, 2000


Having been raised in middle America U S of A, and been a landed immigrant in Canada for the past 14 years, I have had the same question. It isn't an easy answer because almost every generalization I have made about Canadians is true of a significant number of Americans. Phrases like 'more genuine' or 'less definitive' or 'less patriotic' or 'more peace oriented' have come to mind yet I know too many friends back home who fit those phrases too. Yet since I have always felt that I fit into Canadian culture easier than American culture, then I MUST have some subjective criteria to report on this. I have personally found that even though both cultures are quite open minded -- that Canadians are less hung up on labels, credentials, pedigrees, and rigid protocols: if what you offer works and you can demonstrate it they are willing to try it or welcome it. Canadians seem a tad more cynical about those who are on EGO trips, whereas a USA citizen wouldn't even notice until it got totally extreme. While personal ambition exists in both cultures, I would say that it is natural of a Canadian to gather more information to gain a broader picture. An American would be more reactive to minimal information at the outset of it. Yet the Clinton scandals showed a trend in the general populace to sit back and let it happen rather than go up in arms. Again, those observations fall short when you meet and evaluate each individual. I WILL say that politics in both countries suck big time with corruption and gamesmanship -- though checks and balances in each system are different. I could go on but perhaps this will add something constructive to this dialogue. I have always felt like a World Citizen anyway -- so I love both countries! I think what is sad is how LITTLE Americans learn and know about Canada, their LARGEST trading partner.

-- Elly Roselle (eroselle-cbe@msn.com), February 05, 2000.

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