If you’ve ever had an awkward conversation with someone who was visiting the country, the Canadian government has a document to help limit those uncomfortable interactions.
Global Affairs Canada has published a list of answers to questions about interacting with Canadians and adapting to the Canadian culture for those who may not be familiar. The tips range from how to communicate to Canadians to who our “national heroes” are, as well as book, film and television show recommendations.
According to this web page, Canadians are “curious about world geography” so people in Canada want to have conversations about places to visit, including their food, culture, music and political climate.
“Good topics of conversation are: work, studies, the weather (a good opener), one’s house, vacations, sports (especially hockey, American football, baseball, water sports and, increasingly, soccer/football) and other leisure activities,” the information states.
Looking to impress a Canadian? According to this information, the best way to do so is to express that Canada is different than the U.S.
“Most Canadians see themselves as humbler, funnier, more tolerant and/or less aggressive than Americans.”
If you get uncomfortable when you’re particularly close to strangers or someone you’re meeting for the first time, you’re not alone. Apparently Canadians “require at least 14 inches of space” when lining up in a public space because we “jealously guard personal space and privacy.” We also find lots of hand movements distracting and annoying.
Quintessentially Canadian people, places and things
According to this information, people wanting to learn about Canada’s culture should start with the television series Canada, A People’s History, which aired on CBC in the early-2000s and documents various moments in Canada’s history.
The list of books to read include the Anne of Green Gables series, The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood and Will Ferguson’s Why I Hate Canadians. For music, artists including Avril Lavigne, Our Lady Peace, the Tragically Hip and Celine Dion are mentioned. Drake, Justin Bieber and controversial band Nickelback are not included in the list.
Our “national heroes” include Wayne Gretzky, David Suzuki, and actors like Dan Aykroyd, John Candy and Jim Carrey.
“Two things that are interesting about Canadians and heroes are that history is often not given a lot of importance and that charismatic leadership is controversial and fame suspect,” the information states.
“Canadians often dislike making a fuss. This is less true in Quebec where there can be strong emotional identification with leaders and popular figures.”
For anyone looking for activities to do in Canada, the web page says that Canadians are “very sports-oriented and love to go to cottages and camping.”
Joining a sports club or team is recommended, in addition to canoeing, visiting a a Cabane à sucre in Quebec and experiencing events like the Calgary Stampede.
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