Snow. Poutine. Igloos. Frigid weather. Toronto. Much of what the world knows about Canada is due to mass stereotypes and how things are portrayed. While visiting Myrtle Beach a few years ago I came across a t-shirt which had the image of the CN Tower covered in snow with the text “Canadian Summer” under it.
While I understand that this was purely satirical (or so I’d like to believe), it really had me wondering why it is that so much of Canadian culture is shrouded in… a blizzard of stereotypes.
To put it plainly, the version of Canada that people see through various media outlets does not hold true to living in Canada, and that bothers me a lot. We live in a wonderfully diverse country, subjected to four seasons, some of which are unseasonably warmer than usual.
For example, most people in the Southern states are used to seeing images of Canada covered in snow all year-round, however on November 2, 2016 in parts of Ontario we reached record highs of 18 degrees Celsius (that’s 64 degrees Fahrenheit for you Americans)… which is incredible.
What bothers me the most, however, is how little Canadians know about their own country. If I asked anyone on the streets in Hamilton, Ontario what was going on in the presidential election in the United States, each person could give me a brief summary. However, if I asked these same people who our Prime Minister was up against during his election no one would be able to give me the answer.
However, the U.S. election, is just the tip of the iceberg. As a history student at a Canadian university I was astounded to learn about parts of our history that I never knew existed. We all remember the Heritage Minutes commercials which highlighted some of the key contributions that people made in Canadian history. We remember seeing Laura Secord run to inform British troops of an impending American attack. However, not much else is known about the war of 1812.
Likewise, if Canadians stretch their minds back to primary school, the extent of Canadian history covered things such as the Acadians, Jacques Cartier, the various parts of a deer the Natives used, and other trivial things. However, none of these texts ever mention events such as the burning of Montreal, the burning of the White House, the Red River Rebellion, or the various roles we played in both WWI and WWII.
They also shielded students from the atrocity of the residential schools, Japanese internment camps and the Komagata Maru. If you don’t know what any of these items are then I invite you to research a little about each of them. You will be amazed and appalled.
It is upsetting to think that I can name many historical U.S. dates, and many other dates of importance from other countries due to my brief historical studies during my four years at university. I find it discouraging that in an era so heavily focused on truth and knowledge, much of Canadian history is covered by lies and knowledge of other countries.
The Real Canada
It is time we stepped out from behind that outdated U.S. history text book, put the primary school Canadian history text back on the shelf, dusted off some primary research materials, and began teaching our society about Canada; the real Canada.
It is time to stop hiding the things our great country has done. It is time to put more focus on our own politics and less on our neighbor to the south. It is time to understand our role in the great scheme of things instead of watching the rest of the world on our TV’s.
Stop living in a world where Canada is plagued by constant snow storms and frigid temperatures. Step out from your igloo and show the world the real Canada!