Moose Mountie

Today is Canada Day and our country isn’t looking too shabby for a 147-year-old. In past years, I’ve written about the full lyrics to O Canada and how some famous folk view Canada. This year, I’m taking a look at what it means to me to be a “real” Canadian.

Bear in mind that this comes from the perspective of living in Vancouver my entire life, so the “Canadian experience” is likely quite different if you grew up in the Arctic, Maritimes, Prairies or “Central” Canada.

1. You Are Quick to Apologize

If someone else has bumped into you while walking on the street and you said sorry, then you might be a Canadian. If you’ve ever gone to a retail store to return an item and said sorry to the cashier for troubling them, then you might be a Canadian.

While it may be just a stereotype, Canadians do seem to have the habit of apologizing for almost anything, almost immediately. It’s a default reaction. For the most part, we also happen to be a polite and mild-mannered people, though there are clearly some extreme exceptions out there.

2. You Watch HNIC Religiously

Growing up, I was told that the national sport of Canada wasn’t technically hockey; it was lacrosse. That’s only a partial truth. Canada’s National Sports Act of 1994 decreed that lacrosse would be Canada’s national summer sport, whereas ice hockey would be our national winter sport.

Prior to that Act, I think the frozen waters may have been a little more murky. Whatever the case may be, and whether or not you actually play the game, Canadians love our hockey. And arguably more so, we love Hockey Night in Canada.

3. You Embrace the Cultural Mosaic

Canada is a largely nation of immigrants. From sea to shining sea, we have seen people arrive in Canada from just about every other sea in the world and this is in addition to the broad range of indigenous peoples who have populated this land for centuries too. And unlike the melting pot to the south, we were raised to embrace the multicultural mosaic instead.

With this has grown a national culture of diversity and tolerance. We want to celebrate Robbie Burns Day, just as much as we want to celebrate the Lunar New Year. We want to indulge in real Polish perogies, just as much as we love eating some really fresh Japanese sushi, Spanish paella or Lebanese shawarma. It’s all good. And further to this, given our heritage of coming from all corners of the globe, you likely also speak a language other than English or French, even if poorly.

4. You Are a Humble Patriot

In some ways, Canadians self-describe ourselves as “not American.” And just as there is a difference between a cultural melting pot and a cultural mosaic, there is also a difference in how we choose to express our patriotism. In the United States, it’s not uncommon to see many homes with large American flags out front. It’s not uncommon to see people wearing the stars and stripes proudly.

Canadians are just as proud of our country. We’re just not so boldly expressive about it (outside of the Olympics, particularly hockey). Sorry about that.

5. You Have Answered a “Skill-Testing Question”

Ever win a prize in some random contest or sweepstakes? Ever see the fine print about how the contest isn’t open to residents of Quebec? Then, chances are that you’ve had to tackle a simple arithmetic “skill-testing question” to claim your prize… even if the store clerks will usually just tell you the answer if you ask.

What do you think it means to be a “real” Canadian? Is it the maple syrup? The moose? The public healthcare?