Posts Tagged ‘IDcanada’
One of the first things you realize while wandering the streets of any major Canadian city is that it is a diverse and tolerant nation. From the hordes of West Indians living in Toronto to the masses of Chinese around Vancouver, the country is full of influences from around the world. While there is a general Canadian identity, which rallies to support the national hockey team, for example, each ethnic group in the country generally tends to continue to carry on its cultural heritage as well, without objection.
Ironically, the least tolerant of Canadians are often those who stand out the most themselves—in this case I mean the Québécois. Quebec is the French province of Canada, which has long been considered different from the rest of Canada. While the rest of the country speaks English, for example, Quebec’s official language is French. And because of Quebec, food labels and signs throughout the entire country are listed in French as well as English.
Montreal, the largest city in Quebec, is an incredibly diverse city, with immigrants from the Middle East, Caribbean, Asia and beyond. While the cultural and racial tolerance Canada is known for is generally found here as well, there have been problems with traditional Québécois taking offense to fresh immigrants who fail to adopt the French language.
It’s really surprising to me that in a country founded on tolerance, the very people who were allowed to maintain their own “different” French language and culture while everyone around them spoke English and created a new culture are the ones who object to a new generation of immigrants doing the same.
That being said, most Québécois are still very open to outside influences, and walking around Montreal reveals that a diverse spirit is generally still alive and well.
For a country that sits so far north it’s often frozen, with parts that see so much rain you could float away, Canadians don’t use anything as an excuse to prevent them from enjoying the great outdoors. Taking great pride in their country’s abundant natural beauty, enjoying this beauty is ingrained into the Canadian psyche, no matter what the weather may be on any given day.
Business happens here just as it does anywhere else in the world, and yet somehow, people don’t seem to lose sight of what surrounds them and live with blinders, as too many of us are guilty of. When the weather’s nice, everyone is out jogging, enjoying the waterfront in Toronto or the Seawall in Vancouver. When it’s not, they just layer up and go for a hike, perhaps with cameras in tow to capture the beauty they are bound to stumble upon.
If there is one thing all of us can learn from Canada (and actually, there are many), it would be to disconnect from the concrete-and-cellular world we live in today, and reconnect with nature from time to time. It truly refreshes your soul.
My ID: 3:53pm, Wednesday, 21 January 2004: Vancouver International Airport
Alaska Airlines flight AS673 from Los Angeles
My Initial Descent into Canada came on approach into Vancouver International Airport on a cold, gray January afternoon. Living in California at the time, I decided I wanted to see the city I had heard so much about. So I hopped on the plane and took in the beauty for the entire 3-hour journey up the coast. I was treated to a view of California’s Yosemite National Park, the downtown Seattle skyline, and excited for the bigger treat I had awaiting me upon landing.
Just walking down the corridor at YVR to the immigration queue, I knew so much about the culture and heritage of British Columbia. From Native American Indian artifact displays to mock lakes and trees to recorded nature sounds coming from the walls surrounding me, no detail was left untouched. While the immigration officers themselves were a bit stuffy, I found everyone else I encountered during my first 4-day stay to be exactly as I had expected: warm, polite, friendly and welcoming. There have been few cities I have visited where I felt immediately at home, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that this was one of them.