Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Canada Day Abroad: Videos To Inspire Discussion About What It Means to be Canadian

With tomorrow's Canada Day celebrations around the world, and our teachers celebrating from coast to coast, in China, the Bahamas, Japan and of course, London, England it gets me thinking about what it means to be Canadian.

Before I moved to England to teach I was fairly typical in defining my Canadian-ness as simply "not American." The video below really demonstrates that idea. It's a few years old now, but this beer company really hit the nail on the head in terms of defining what many Canadians believe to be our Canadian-ness.

But then when I lived in London, in one of the world's most diverse cities, I started to realize that my definition of "not American" wasn't really enough. Most of my friends were Australian, New Zealander, British, Zimbabwean and South African. I didn't know many Americans & Canadians when I taught in London. So, I learned that for me, being Canadian was so much more than simply not American. It also means having a massive land mass with plenty of personal space between us. (I really learned that lesson when I did a teaching practicum in Bangladesh, but that's a story for another day.)

We are a multicultural country, but in so many ways we are just at the very beginning of this transformation. We are a little baby compared to England - we're still so young in comparison. I find the video of "Joe" above to be a funny one, and outdated in what I would define Canadian as now. He's white, wearing a plaid shirt, and likely listening to the Tragically Hip. Sure, that's one part of our Canadian-ness, but what about all the other cultures represented in Canada?

When I looked for the Joe video in You Tube, another video came up as recommended viewing. "I am a Muslim" is an American video, but it looks almost like a direct response to the "I Am Canadian" Video above. Check it out below.

I love this video and really think we should have a new "I am Canadian" video to show what our diversity is really all about. It can't be a beer commercial (in case you don't already know, Muslims don't generally drink alcohol), and frankly, I'm not that keen on a beer company defining Canadian-ness for us all anyway.

What would you want in an "I Am Canadian" video that is more representative of our Canada today? What would you want to show your students abroad?

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1 comment:

  1. Hey Victoria,

    I read this article on my friend (a fellow Canadian)'s facebook, and I immediately thought of your blog. Who is Canadian? This article (I don't know where he found it) explains:

    You probably missed it in the local news, but there was a report that someone in Pakistan had advertised in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed a Canadian - any Canadian...

    An Australian dentist wrote the following editorial to help define what a Canadian is, so they would know one when they found one:

    A Canadian can be English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. A Canadian can be Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab, Pakistani or Afghan.

    A Canadian may also be a Cree, Métis, Mohawk, Blackfoot, Sioux, or one of the many other tribes known as native Canadians. A Canadian's religious beliefs range from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or none. In fact, there are more Muslims in Canada than in Afghanistan . The key difference is that in Canada they are free to worship as each of them chooses. Whether they have a religion or no religion, each Canadian ultimately answers only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

    A Canadian lives in one of the most prosperous lands in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which recognize the right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

    A Canadian is generous and Canadians have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return. Canadians welcome the best of everything, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services and the best minds.

    But they also welcome the least - the oppressed, the outcast and the rejected.

    These are the people who built Canada . You can try to kill a Canadian if you must as other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world have tried but in doing so you could just be killing a relative or a neighbour. This is because Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, can be a Canadian.


Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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