Canadian born, daughter of two immigrants, living in a city that essentially borders on the states, where every Canadian flag seems to be accompanied by a an American one, I have suffered an identity crisis, or basically a lack of national identity. This was brought to my awareness when abroad and I was made to answer questions about my country, to define myself and where I came from. I not only realized how little I knew about Canada, why we’re still attached to the monarchy and what that means for us, about our countries policies on drugs, immigration, hell, I’ve never even been to the Rockies. When having a discussion with a British friend about Canada I started listing Canadian achievements and celebrities, did you know Neil Young and Jim Carey are Canadians? Did you know we invented penicillin and basketball? he told me of a Canadian roommate he had who did the same thing. Therefore trying to prove ourselves, a sign of an inferiority complex, seems to be a trait shared by fellow Canadians. Knowing an astonishing amount of US affairs and politics, and then feeling indignant when Americans don’t know we have provinces, not states, think that we all speak French, are amazed that we listen to the same music they do, and not only do they know nothing about us, but don’t seem to care to, maintaining their hard set stereotypes about our hockey loving, free healthcare possessing, arctic cold, polite but boring Nation. There influence has be disconcerting, since there’s a big blur between American and North American. Our high exposure to their media, which is unavoidable if you have cable or listen to the radio, or go to the movies has been so ingrained in us from an early age that there is little distinction between Canadian and American content.
Another factor in our identity crisis is the large flux of immigrants that have moved into Canada’s major cities. Cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal where half of the population are immigrants, all bringing in their own cultural traditions and lifestyles.
Canadians are generally not very patriotic people, especially not in comparison to our neighbours south, and only on rare occasions, such as The Olympics and The Expo do we dust off the flag and are reminded of national pride. Other then the previous reasons listed, other factors play a part, like our vast landscape, which makes it hard to create unity when so many different sub cultures exist. Vancouverites probably identity more with Washington and Oregon then the East Coast of Canada. Their even being a movement for the creation of Cascadia, and independent country consisting of BC and West Coast states. Whereas the Quebecois have long held a separate identity from the rest of Canada, making a point of disregarding Canada, for example celebrating Jean Baptiste day instead of Canada Day.
Overall, being exposed to various cultures has giving me a worldly awareness that I might have lacked if I had grown up in an ego-centric nation, and left me without the arrogance and false invisibility ingrained in the people. In the end I know I’ll live in Canada, because even though it’s cold, can be boring, and Justin Beiber’s birthplace, I realize how lucky I am to be from here and appreciate it more every time I come back from a poverty striken, dirty country. I still have so much to learn about this country and who I am as a part of it.