Question for international readers

eggsnemesis:

realsocialskills:

I am an American, and I often write from a very US-specific perspective.

I’m noticed that only a little over half of my site traffic is from US ip addresses, which means that a lot of y’all are from other places. 

So I’d like to know - what are some things you wish Americans knew about your culture? What are things that Americans tend to get wrong in interacting with you?

eggsnemesis said:

Canada’s culture is very similar to the United States but not quite the same. Often the differences are cited in cutesy ways, like “poutine” and “hockey” both by Americans and Canadians, which can be fun, but there are more subtle or serious differences too.

Language politics are very complex over here - Quebec in particular but there are other french or bilingual parts of Canada (NB is practically entirely bilingual, for example), and cities with high immigrant populations add other languages into the mix. My first language is English so I can’t comment on the politics, but in general I’d be careful when “joking” about French Canadians, etc. 

Our politics are generally more left and our government is more secular than the states. This does NOT mean it’s your liberal paradise.

We have same-sex marriage, but that does not mean we’ve got LGBT equality. And because of the focus on LGBTQI+ rights to mean “same sex marriage”, it means that sometimes those other things go ignored. Also, how accepted quiltbag people are often depends on the location, same as the states. The city of Toronto vs rural Alberta, for example would be loosely equivalent to San Fran vs rural Georgia. 

Similarly, racism exists in Canada. While there’s less of a pressure for Canada to be a melting pot (the gov’t prefers the term “mulitculturalism” but that doesn’t mean other cultures are completely accepted), racism exists and Canada has many of the same problems as the states.

There are also differences, though - First Nations/aboriginal people tend to get the worst of it (eg a study found that aboriginal people were the most disproportionally represented racial group in prisons). On that note, Canada’s record with its aboriginal people is really bad, in the past and up to the present day (especially with aboriginal women).

The other thing I’ve seen around is the concept that there are no POC Canadians or very few. Again, this depends greatly on location (Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal have large POC & immigrant makeups, the vast majority of Nunavut is Inuit, etc), but there are POC canadians living practically everywhere, even in places where they’re a minority. 

I’ve also encountered a lot of confusion over the Canadian healthcare system, made worse by American politics scare tactics over it (most canadians I know would vastly prefer our system to the american one, for the record, and I personally get very peeved when people try to use it as an example against universal health care). That being said, it also isn’t perfect either, and not everything is covered (and what IS covered changes depending on the province). My blanket statement for that is “if you haven’t done your research on it, don’t bring it up in a debate”.

Often when there’s an american election going on, the joke is that people will “move to canada if [so and so] wins”. Some other canadians I know take this well and will even jokingly offer space at their place. Others get really annoyed because of the false depiction of canada as “leftist socialist paradise”. So… it depends on the person.

Canadians also are required to take a class on American history in high school (or at least, they are in Ontario, I can’t speak for other provinces), and through the internet and media often know a LOT about American history and politics (sometimes more than they know canadian history/politics tbh). Often this means that American issues are more talked about and noticed even among Canadians, and Americans rarely talk about Canada or Canadian issues at all. On the other hand, sometimes Americans start to talk about Canada without knowing what they’re talking about and that’s a problem too.

The disparity is really complicated and I’m not sure how to fix it! But I think at least being aware that there are more differences than just healthcare and coloured money and listening when Canadians talk about our country may help. Asking questions might help too, just make sure they’re willing to educate.

Personally I am, obviously, or I wouldn’t have TL;DR’d this whole thing - I’m not an expert on all things canada, though, I know enough to know how limited my point of view really is but at least I’ve lived here all my life. BUT YEAH, hopefully that helps some!