Friday, August 12, 2011

What does it mean to be a Canadian?

This fall I will guide some 70 grade 11 students through the social studies curriculum. The guiding question that centers the scope of the course is: To what extent should nationalism be embraced? There is almost an ironic quality to that question being asked of a Canadian audience. To many it would seem that Canada best embodies a fairly a-nationalistic persona. The most patriotic sentiment that Canada might muster is “I am Canadian, Meh…”

canada-usaThis perspective is a little dishonest since it really doesn’t account for the fact even this tacit denial of nationalistic pride or identity might itself be evidence of a strong nationalism. This is especially true since Canada has unavoidably advanced its strongest elements of it national character against that of USA. Since American patriotism is so bold – a lackadaisical perspective on Canada’s collective pride might seem like a vindication against the perceived American arrogance. Of course a non-committal approach to themes of national identity are not well supported in the main. One only needs to ask a few poignant questions to bring out some of the most ardent opinions with relative ease. So here is my challenge:

What does it mean to you to be Canadian?

Is being Canadian substantially different than being American? If so in what ways? If not which factors constribute tot he assimilation?


jc said...

Canada is a-nationalistic while the USA is boldly patriotic. Having lived in both countries about equal amounts of time I have come to see this as a myth. The belief that Canadians are a-nationalistic is even a form of the strong nationalism that Canadians possess. Perhaps you have to be an American living in Canada to get slapped in the face with Canadian nationalism to realize this.

Increasing... said...

good call jc. I think sometimes we "...doth protest too loudly.."