Top Ten Reasons I Love Canada

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Snowy Gloves

Snowy Gloves

These days, every­body is lazy and we all ate way too much… con­clu­sion, the blo­gos­phere looks pretty quiet! I would have relaxed myself (trans­la­tion: drink Diet Coke while smok­ing cig­a­rettes and read forums), but as the new year is about to begin, I wanted to end 2007 on a pos­i­tive note. So here are the top ten rea­sons I love Canada:

The mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism: I grew up in a rel­a­tively big city. In my junior high/ high school, out of about 2000 stu­dents, there were only cou­ple of Black stu­dents. And yet, they were from the French islands… there were some Asian stu­dents, but mostly because my high school taught Chi­nese. Hav­ing a for­eign last name like me — even though your whole fam­ily had been French for gen­er­a­tions — could set you apart. Just imag­ine my sur­prise when I first came to Canada, and saw immi­grants, first, sec­ond, or third gen­er­a­tion, rep­re­sented in all lay­ers of soci­ety! We are exposed to the world’s diver­sity daily. Most peo­ple I know here speak at least two lan­guages and are proud Cana­di­ans… with a for­eign back­ground. Mul­ti­cul­tural soci­eties are often crit­i­cized and yes, no model is per­fect… but I’m proud to live in a mul­ti­cul­tural country.

The peo­ple: Cana­di­ans are nice peo­ple. It sounds a bit cliché but it’s true. I find peo­ple really polite most of time, and ready to help. Peo­ple are car­ing too: if you drop some­thing, some­one is going to run after you to give it back. If you look lost, some­one is going to ask you if you need direc­tions. Cities are fast-paced but it’s the norm for peo­ple to take the time to help out. How nice… I could never get used to Parisian rude­ness. Cana­di­ans are also patri­otic but not over-patriotic: most of time, we wear our pride on our back­pack (what? Never seen a Cana­dian back­packer with a lit­tle flag on his bag???), that’s about it.

The polit­i­cal sys­tem: First of all, we have strong demo­c­ra­tic traditions.Canada func­tions within a frame­work of con­sti­tu­tional monar­chy and a fed­eral sys­tem of par­lia­men­tary gov­ern­ment. Pol­i­tics gen­er­ally empha­sizes con­sti­tu­tional law, free­dom of reli­gion, per­sonal lib­erty, and regional auton­omy… and British com­mon law French civil law, North Amer­i­can abo­rig­i­nal gov­ern­ment, and Eng­lish civic tra­di­tions inspired the sys­tem. Most of the pol­i­tics are worked out through com­pro­mise between inter­est groups, regional con­sul­ta­tions, and the Hill (Par­lia­ment). Canada also has a lib­eral atti­tude towards homo­sex­u­al­ity, women’s rights, immi­gra­tion, mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism etc., which fits me per­fectly. There is also a sense of col­lec­tive respon­si­bil­ity: uni­ver­sal health care is sup­ported, as well as gun con­trol, for­eign aid, and other social pro­grams. Sure, I don’t like Harper… but thanks to regional auton­omy, we, in Ontario, enjoy a lib­eral gov­ern­ment. Bet­ter than nothing!

The afford­able way of life: When I first came to Canada, I was liv­ing with 390 EUR/ month (about CA$560), a monthly allowance I had to fin­ish my Bach­e­lor degree. In France, with that lit­tle money, I couldn’t rent a place and it was barely enough for food. I had stopped going to the movies (almost 10€ a ticket), buy­ing clothes, and when we would go to the restau­rant, we would pick the small­est place with the cheap­est food. No clothes or only when absolutely needed, for­get about con­cert tick­ets and a lot of things. But in Canada, although I do make a bit more now, life has always been afford­able. Food is cheaper, and so is hous­ing. Util­ity bills aren’t as high (elec­tric­ity, phone…). There are always good bar­gains for clothes or enter­tain­ment (half-price movie tick­ets). My life is def­i­nitely better.

The oppor­tu­ni­ties: Same here… I couldn’t get a job in France, and with a weak econ­omy and a youth unem­ploy­ment rate of 23.1%, the future didn’t look so bright. I had the degrees, but not the right ones: for some employ­ers, I was over-qualified, for some other, I wasn’t qual­i­fied enough. I could speak three lan­guages but not the right ones, I couldn’t be a sales­per­son because I didn’t have the sales­per­sons cer­tifi­cate, I couldn’t work part-time in a restau­rant because they already had plenty of kids doing their appren­tice­ship for free etc etc. In Canada, it wasn’t easy at first, but at least I was employ­able, even though I worked a fair share of low pay­ing jobs. But even­tu­ally, peo­ple trusted me and gave me a chance. That’s all I needed. And it worked fine.

The lan­guages: Canada has two offi­cial lan­guages: French and Eng­lish. Although French is mostly spo­ken in Québec, New-Brunswick and among some com­mu­ni­ties in Ontario, Man­i­toba and Alberta, most young Cana­di­ans (the bilin­gual­ism poli­cies were imple­mented in the 70’s) can speak a bit of French. Gov­ern­ment ser­vices always are in both lan­guages and civil ser­vants have to be bilin­gual. Even though I speak flu­ent Eng­lish, I’m glad I can bor­row French books at the library, that I can study in French if I want to, that I can speak in either lan­guage when hav­ing my dri­ver license renewed etc. French com­mu­ni­ties also bring their share of cul­ture, with movies, plays etc. in French.

The immi­gra­tion sys­tem: I wanted to live in a coun­try I could actu­ally be part of. Work per­mit and tem­po­rary visas are a great way to dis­cover a place, but I wouldn’t have lived on these for­ever: no right of vote, a sta­tus that has to be renewed and can always be revoked etc. But lucky me, Canada has a trans­par­ent immi­gra­tion pol­icy, with a web­site and a min­istry ded­i­cated to immi­gra­tion (Cit­i­zen­ship & Immi­gra­tion). As long as you fit one of the immi­gra­tion pro­gram, you can be eli­gi­ble and become a per­ma­nent res­i­dent, and then, a cit­i­zen. Mak­ing an appli­ca­tion is straight­for­ward. I did it and I’m now glad to be one of the 250 000 immi­grants that become per­ma­nent res­i­dent each year.

The weather: love it or hate it, at least, it’s unique and extreme. Where else on earth can you go from +40°C to –40°C? And the bliz­zards, the snow storms, the trop­i­cal storms, the heavy rain warn­ings, the wind chill… all that for one big coun­try!

The sym­bols and icons: the beaver, the maple tree and the maple leaf, the flag… what’s not to like?

I hope you’re now all dying to visit Canada! And tell me… what do you like best in your coun­try? Mean­while, I wish you all a happy new year! May 2008 be a a great one!

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

40 Comments

  1. OK
    No, my prob­lem is not that my cre­den­tials weren’t rec­og­nized. To do a research on what? Do you mind explain­ing that?
    Talk­ing about cre­den­tials the New Zealand peo­ple (and gov­ern­ment) are more hon­est because they say in their web site that they will not be able to work IF their cre­den­tials aren’t rec­og­nized by their spe­cific orga­ni­za­tions BUT, in the Cana­dian web site don’t.
    Cana­di­ans care about immi­grants? Well, yes of course, IF and only IF they are will­ing to keep them­selves in their eth­nic silo, if and only if, are will­ing to pay a lot of money study­ing againg in their awful insti­tutes and uni­ver­si­ties, if and only if, they are will­ing to be a guard at a mall in a lost sub­urb, if and only if, they don’t talk to blonde cana­di­ans, if and only if, they spend their money.
    Why do you say that? Every year, around 250,000, new immi­grants arrive to Canada and half of that num­ber return to their coun­tries bro­ken and most of the time with their mar­riage dis­solved. And those who stayed, as guards, cus­tomer agent, cab dri­ver or book shelver.

    That’s your solu­tion? To move from Toronto if I hate it so much? No, I won’t do that and let me tell you why: I know that just my pres­ence both­ers them so I will stay. I’m very com­pe­tent and suc­ces­ful and bet­ter than most in my field and they are angry about this, well, that’s exactly why I’m stay­ing in Toronto.

    You said: “All in all, I think you gen­er­al­ize a bit too much. I’m sorry you had a bad expe­ri­ence but it hardly paint a accu­rate pic­ture of Canada.”

    Hav­ing a rosie pic­ture about Canada and Cana­di­ans isn’t gen­er­al­iz­ing? Is gen­er­al­iz­ing only if it is bad but not if its rosie?
    Lis­ten the sto­ries, read the Toronto Star about immi­grant sto­ries, go to the air­port and talk to the taxi dri­vers and find out about them before talking.

    • What do you want me to tell you?

      You are barg­ing in there and basi­cally hold­ing me respon­si­ble for your prob­lems. Er… wrong audi­ence, don’t you think?

      I’m an immi­grant. I know how hard it can be. It’s not just Canada, mind you. Being an immi­grant isn’t easy, not mat­ter where you immi­grate. Do you really think Canada was wait­ing for you? Do you think any coun­try is? It’s up to you to set­tle down and to make think works. Some­times, you may receive help from peo­ple. Some­times you won’t. But you are the one who decide to move to Canada, so take your respon­si­bil­i­ties. If you hate it, leave. If you like it but think it can be improve, work at that, get involved in pol­i­tics or do some­thing instead of whining.

      If you base your immi­gra­tion on what a web­site says… I can’t do much for you. Googling around is NOT doing research you know.

      I don’t think I have a rosy pic­ture of Canada. I don’t think my life is par­tic­u­larly easy. Yet, I want to make it work and I must say it’s get­ting bet­ter, one step at the time. I’m fine with that and I’m happy in Canada. I don’t hold a grudge like you seem to because *I* made the deci­sion to come here.

      You sound like a stub­born kid. You hate TO but won’t move because sup­pos­edly, your pres­ence both­ers them. I don’t think it does… it’s in your head.

      Oh, and I don’t read the Toronto Star — it’s a rag.

  2. Hi,

    I just briefly read some of your blog posts/articles and I believe that you are doing a won­der­ful job. You have a very pos­i­tive out­look towards Canada while know­ing that with­out hard­work you will expe­ri­ence many set­backs. I am a first gen­er­a­tion Cana­dian and although I was born here, I still find that I am learn­ing what it means to be Cana­dian. I wil con­tinue to fol­low your site, read every­thing and par­tic­i­pate where pos­si­ble. I am on twit­ter @yaw2010 For now, keep up the goodwork!

  3. hi i also live in canada and i came from asia and i felt so wel­come and so excited to be in canada and live in it too. i live in water­loo and i found cana­di­ans to be very polite and friendly:)

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