There are a lot of expectations that come with being Canadian. As an inhabitant of the Great White North for the entirety of my years thus far, I would say that I have grown accustomed to the pressures of belonging to such a country. Those that are not from Canada anticipate us to be proficient in both English and French, overly polite, obsessed with winter and the sports that come with the season, drivers of deer or moose, and addicted to anything and everything bacon or maple flavoured. These are just a few of the very common stereotypes Canadians must face on a regular basis. At times, they can be quite humorous. However, there are many moments where these expected and overused comments become not only repetitive but offensive as well. It makes it difficult for those belonging to other countries to appreciate us for the type of people we truly are. When all they see is a large igloo and hockey stick representing our great nation, what we stand for becomes easily forgotten.
We may be the target of several jokes and entertaining parodies, but there is a bigger issue that arises out of this type of comedic criticism. It is imperative that those living in different parts of the world, belonging to different cultures and practising different customs, do not judge others based off of what they think a particular type of person should be like. Stereotyping is deeply rooted in our society, and Canadians are no exception to it.
I think it is no surprise when I say that hockey is more than likely to be number one on any list of iconic, and if I must say so, annoying Canadian stereotypes. What is even crazier is that if you are Canadian, and are not obsessed with hockey or even Tim Horton’s for that matter, people start to believe that there is definitely something wrong with you. The fact that everyone believes Canadians are hockey aficionados is quite confusing seeing as how it is not even the sport most Canadian adults play. Although many play both, golf is just as popular as hockey for some.
Yes, many NHL players hail from the Great White North, but when you grow up in such frigid and unfortunately, frostbitten weather conditions, there is nothing more satisfying than putting on a pair of skates and playing a good game of hockey with your friends and family. But hockey does not define our nation. Rather, it is something that Canadians feel gives them a sense of national pride. We may know the Hockey Night in Canada theme song by heart, but that is because we simply enjoy the sport and the way it brings us together.
In regards to the Tim Horton’s reference, I cannot say I do not agree with our love for this particular brand of coffee and the delicious treats that accompany it. However, I think it is safe to say that Canadians are addicted to caffeine, no matter where they choose to buy it. Those that are not from Canada may think the classic ‘double-double’ is synonymous with being Canadian but maybe, just maybe, they got it right this time. Nothing can compare to the feeling of being at a rink, with a Timmies hot chocolate in hand, watching your son or daughter play the beautiful game most of us love. For Canadians, that type of moment is not just a simple pastime. It’s home.
The next stereotype is the politeness and passiveness of Canadians. Now, many of us may catch ourselves being overly courteous most of the time, but who knew others viewed that as a bad thing. Why is it that we are mocked for our well-mannered behaviour? We may be polite but that does not mean we cannot show our more aggressive side at times. The larger issue that arises out of this is that others start to view Canadians as, dare I say, pushovers? It is as if people think they can get away with doing something unfair towards a Canadian, such as abruptly pushing them out of the way because, in the end, the Canadian is the one to most likely say sorry. So yes, we may apologize a lot and we may even be sorry that everyone thinks we are, so sorry, but sorry, not sorry. If you do not treat us the way you want to be treated, then do not expect to always receive our Northern hospitality.
The third and final stereotype is the hatred Canadians have for Torontonians, and that Torontonians even hate those living in their own city. I understand that those that do not live in Toronto regard the city’s inhabitants as obnoxious, but with the many wonderful things the city has to offer, such as well-known musical artists, talented actors, diverse street festivals, and historic neighbourhoods, it makes it quite difficult for Torontonians to not be proud of where they live. Many view Toronto as the centre of the country, often overlooking other Canadian cities such as Vancouver or Ottawa, but you can’t help but love and appreciate the Six for what it continuously brings to the table (and I don’t just mean Timbits).
In regards to locals having a strong distaste for one another, I think that is common in every city. How often do people like their own kind? It’s quite rare. There is always something we find to complain about. In Toronto, the suburbs hate downtown and downtowners hate the suburbs. We complain about our commutes, taking streetcars during rush hour, rubbing up against more than a dozen sweaty strangers in what feels like a slow-moving sardine can on wheels, Toronto’s real estate market, raccoons making their way into our garbage cans as if they are buffet tables, and the issues that arise out of municipal elections. It is only natural for us to think negatively about certain aspects of our city, but to say that Torontonians despise Torontonians is not a fair assumption.
With having said all of that, I believe that most of these stereotypes are quite accurate. However, that does not mean I do not take offense to the constant mentioning of them. Furthermore, I am often left wondering why these are the most common beliefs people have of Canadians. Are they simply making this stuff up or is this how we truly are? I believe it’s a combination of both.
Yes, most of us do love hockey and Tim Horton’s, but that does not mean we are mindless, eyes glued to the TV on Hockey Night in Canada evenings with an extra large Timmies coffee in hand kinds of people. When others mock us for loving the things that make us feel more Canadian and tie us together as a community, it is difficult to not regard their comments as negative and hurtful. I believe a lot of stereotyping, no matter of who or what, is the result of ignorance. When you hear someone ask a Canadian if they ride a deer to class or if they live in an igloo, it’s hard to not roll your eyes out of your sockets. Pick up a book and educate yourselves, please.
I must admit, I am a lover of Tim Horton’s and sometimes a frequent user of our well known ‘eh,’ but I have become more self-conscious of liking these things and using these terms because I know other non-Canadians will judge me for the mere mentioning of them. But we should not be ashamed of where we come from. We need to embrace these things. If people want to believe I spend most of my time wearing snowshoes, then let them. I know who I am and what I stand for and I think I am not the only one when I say, I am damn proud to be Canadian.