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What does it mean to be Canadian?


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What does it mean to be a Canadian? I am curious to hear your responses on this debate.

What is the fine line between maintaining a pluralist, multicultural society all while preserving, and promoting a national Canadian identity?

We form a civil, liberal and democratic society, one which respects the individual, their beliefs, their customs, and we must strive to preserve this at all costs.

But en bref, I believe that promoting a national Canadian Identity should take precedence in societal life, whereas the multicultural aspect should be more a private matter, as long as it respects the rule of law, and almost always does.

While diversity is a trait to be cherished, if we go too far in accommodating special interest groups, be it Fundamentalist Christians, Fundamentalist Muslims, and an amalgam of other "colourful" religious/political sects, we risk segregating them, dividing them into politicized factions who will only view the other as an enemy, and in turn, leading to the dissolution of a peaceful, civil society. Afterall, we all constitute one single race, so why encourage artificial “cultural” boundaries between us, as they only seek to promote distrust and disunity.

As Canadians, we find multiculturalism easy to accept, since we were founded upon the merger of two rather distinct, and often antagonized societies, but that (sorry, I’m a staunch federalist who loves Quebec) only makes us better. For proof, we universally seem to be the most successful national in terms of immigration; capable of transforming what many other nations accept hesitantly, into a strategic advantage on both the political, societal, intellectual and economic fronts. And as an immigrant myself, I am incredibly thankful.

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Another such thread. I might as well take the plunge while this is still fresh and unencumbered.

But en bref, I believe that promoting a national Canadian Identity should take precedence in societal life, whereas the multicultural aspect should be more a private matter, as long as it respects the rule of law, and almost always does.

While diversity is a trait to be cherished, if we go too far in accommodating special interest groups, be it Fundamentalist Christians, Fundamentalist Muslims, and an amalgam of other "colourful" religious/political sects, we risk segregating them, dividing them into politicized factions who will only view the other as an enemy, and in turn, leading to the dissolution of a peaceful, civil society. Afterall, we all constitute one single race, so why encourage artificial “cultural” boundaries between us, as they only seek to promote distrust and disunity.

Someone can correct me but I think "multiculturalism" grew out of Trudeau's desire to make the federal public service bilingual. Trudeau's bilingualism was wrongly interpreted (and is still wrongly interpreted) to imply that Canada is a "bilingual country".

So anyway, one criticsm of this bilingualism, particularly from Western Canada, was to point out that Canada was not merely "two nations" of English and French but rather a broad mix of people - many of whom were neither of French nor English origin.

[Keep in mind that this was in the early 1970s. Central/Eastern Canada was largely British/French-Canadian. Western Canada had a large number of Eastern Europeans. I grossly generalize.]

To make his bilingual policies palatable, Trudeau invented "multiculturalism" as a way of saying that we have two official languages but many "official" cultures. I recall Marc Lalonde saying that one third of Canadians were from Britain, one third from France and one third from "somewhere else".

What does all this mean?

There is no single Canadian identity because many Canadians are unilingual but don't speak the same language.

I'm not certain multiculturalism means anything more than interesting costumes and food during summer festivals. It was originally intended as a means to get English Canadians to accept the French Canadians who live in their midst.

The broader issue of what English-Canada is still seems elusive. I wouldn't look to the CBC or the Liberal Party of Canada for a good answer.

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Granted, the word itself was coined by Trudeau, but since then has grown to encompass more wide spread connotations including religious, linguistic, cultural tolerance, etc. So I guess I should've also specified the question a bit more (though in the original sense, you got it dead on).

There is no single Canadian identity because many Canadians are unilingual but don't speak the same language.

French Canadians define themselves as unique, but are you suggesting that English Canada does not, or are we merely the missing (cultural) link between the Brits and Americans? It's no easy question to answer, but I would be curious to find out.

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What it means to be Canadian: (to me)

saving money

working hard

waving to your neighbours

knowing hockey

going to the lake on the weekend

drinking clameyes

asking questions and listening

...

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I'm not certain multiculturalism means anything more than interesting costumes and food during summer festivals. It was originally intended as a means to get English Canadians to accept the French Canadians who live in their midst.

The broader issue of what English-Canada is still seems elusive. I wouldn't look to the CBC or the Liberal Party of Canada for a good answer.

Nor Conservatives, as it was Brian M. and the P.C.'s who made multiculturalism a law. I don't think any party has a handle on the question.

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Being Canadian, being part of the international community...

haha

Such a BOLD statement! Watch out! here comes Canada, they are part of the international community.

hahaha!!

Being part of a community doesn't mean one need be the one to "watch out! for" in my world. In your world, in your community, on your street -- I bet you are a bully, the guy to "watch out! for".

Re: Inferiority -- not any more baby.

Maybe a number of years ago, but today, I highly doubt if "being American" garners any envy whatsoever. Except in the minds of Candian rightwingers perhaps.

Pity, anger, disgust... but certainly not ENVY.

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I think a national Canadian identity doesn't really exist. People say "I'm proud to be Canadian", but what does that mean? We really are a little brother to the States, because our only difference from them is a half-assed attempt at "multiculturalism".

I say I'm lucky to be canadian and proud of Canada...only immigrants can be truly proud to be Canadian cause only they have done something to become Canadians...I was only fortunate to be born here.

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I think a national Canadian identity doesn't really exist. People say "I'm proud to be Canadian", but what does that mean? We really are a little brother to the States, because our only difference from them is a half-assed attempt at "multiculturalism".

I say I'm lucky to be canadian and proud of Canada...only immigrants can be truly proud to be Canadian cause only they have done something to become Canadians...I was only fortunate to be born here.

How deeply....milquetoast.

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I think a national Canadian identity doesn't really exist. People say "I'm proud to be Canadian", but what does that mean? We really are a little brother to the States, because our only difference from them is a half-assed attempt at "multiculturalism".

I say I'm lucky to be canadian and proud of Canada...only immigrants can be truly proud to be Canadian cause only they have done something to become Canadians...I was only fortunate to be born here.

How deeply....milquetoast.

yeah? what exactly is timid about a reality? Why would someone chose to be proud over a

non accomplishment? Being proud to be born a Canadian (or American, Brit etc...) is like being proud of winning the lottery.

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I think a national Canadian identity doesn't really exist. People say "I'm proud to be Canadian", but what does that mean? We really are a little brother to the States, because our only difference from them is a half-assed attempt at "multiculturalism".

I say I'm lucky to be canadian and proud of Canada...only immigrants can be truly proud to be Canadian cause only they have done something to become Canadians...I was only fortunate to be born here.

How deeply....milquetoast.

yeah? what exactly is timid about a reality? Why would someone chose to be proud over a

non accomplishment? Being proud to be born a Canadian (or American, Brit etc...) is like being proud of winning the lottery.

Oh I agree. You demonstrate the self-despise most of the west is subject to these days. The fact that we NEED immigrants in order to replace the population speaks to this too. These threads are full of people trying to prove how everything is the west's fault, and how westerners are worse than the rest of the world. Why is it surprising that you would elevate immigrants above yourself as an indigenous Canadian? Let me co-op your reply...I know, I know, we "stole" the land from the real indigenous Canadians...we're just scum...

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I would suggest Canada can best be defined as a nation of compromise. We were formed on compromise. Our acceptance of compromise is what has made us multicultural and influences how we approach daily issues. This is what distinguishes us from the States, for better or worse. The States were formed though the 13 colonies being united to win. Compromise threatens their identity so they are not as open to it.

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Being Canadian, being part of the international community...

haha

Such a BOLD statement! Watch out! here comes Canada, they are part of the international community.

hahaha!!

Being part of a community doesn't mean one need be the one to "watch out! for" in my world. In your world, in your community, on your street -- I bet you are a bully, the guy to "watch out! for".

Re: Inferiority -- not any more baby.

Maybe a number of years ago, but today, I highly doubt if "being American" garners any envy whatsoever. Except in the minds of Candian rightwingers perhaps.

Pity, anger, disgust... but certainly not ENVY.

So you were envious but aren't anymore?

haha ok.

Me a bully? how would you be privy to this information?

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I would suggest Canada can best be defined as a nation of compromise. We were formed on compromise. Our acceptance of compromise is what has made us multicultural and influences how we approach daily issues.

Good answer. I like that....to an extent.

But on the flip side, if the Americans have a sense of Identity, why is it assumed we do not have one?

Now a trickier question....we can compromise, but to what extent?

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Actually, I'll try by citing a recent example at my school.

There was a person who was amongst the top 25 finalists for the 2007 version of "Canada's Next Great Prime minister". Anyhow, during a student council meeting, she objected to singing the national anthem on the grounds that terms like "God keep our land" were offensive to her, seeing as she is an atheist.

While I TOO am an atheo-agnostic but I have never once found such a term offensive, nor have I even dreamed of refusing to sing it. I realize that in both English and French Canada, Christian principles were influential in the founding of this nation, and while only briefly, provide us with a reminder of this nations history.

How would the people on this site gauge this as a compromise? And while it would be wrong to force anyone to sing the anthem, I also do find it rather disrespectful to omit our history!

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I would suggest Canada can best be defined as a nation of compromise. We were formed on compromise. Our acceptance of compromise is what has made us multicultural and influences how we approach daily issues. This is what distinguishes us from the States, for better or worse. The States were formed though the 13 colonies being united to win. Compromise threatens their identity so they are not as open to it.

Ain't that sweet. Canada is a land that seldom stands for anything but will bend over for almost everything.

Multiculturalism will sooner or later be the downfall of this country. France and the UK are in trouble and they are now trying to solve the problem - too late - barn door has been left open for too long.

Borg

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To me, being a Canadian means:

anybody who either breathes Canadian air or stands on Canadian soil or declares himself as Canadian and any combination of the above. I suppose you could call me very liberal.

Multiculturalism will sooner or later be the downfall of this country. France and the UK are in trouble and they are now trying to solve the problem - too late - barn door has been left open for too long.
Wait a minute. When you say "multi-culturalism" are you talking about:

1) the simple fact that not all Canadians have discarded their pre-Canadian ethnic heritage?

or

2) state-endorsed public policies?

The two are very different. Using the term "multi-culturalism" without clarifying the above is a non-statement at best.

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2) state-endorsed public policies?

The two are very different. Using the term "multi-culturalism" without clarifying the above is a non-statement at best.

I don't know about anyone else but I would use it to refer to state-sponsored policies.

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So you were envious but aren't anymore?

haha ok.

Me a bully? how would you be privy to this information?

Awwwww.

Used the be the whole world wanted to be like America or be in America (envy).

Now the whole world just wishes America would pi** off.

Too bad eh. Georgie Porgie blew it.

In 2001, on 911 the world sympathized with the US.

In 2003, the world watched with anger as the US invaded Iraq for no reason.

In 2005, the world looked at the US in disgust to it's reaction to Katrina.

From Envy to Disgust in such a short amount of time. Tsk Tsk.

I suspect you are a bully because -- The only thing that makes you proud of a country is it's ability to be "watched out for!"

As in... "WATCH OUT IRAN -- we're gonna getcha!"

I am proud to consider myself a "Lester Pearson" type Canadian -- that means (in case you don't know) ask questions first (diplomacy, negotiation, appeasement) and shoot later (and only when absolutely necessary).

The US position is shoot first ask questions later -- typical bully behaviour.

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