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Hockey (2/10)

Who are we? Every once in a while, we wonder, locals and immigrants alike. People shaped the country we live in, but the face of this same country changed, evolved and reflects today’s world as well as its history. At least, I hope so, because I consider change chance and not a threat.

Canada is a multicultural country. Today, according to the BBC , 20% of people living in Canada are foreign-born and 250 000 newcomers make Canada their home each year. These people will soon be Canadians are most of them will adapt to the North American way of life, while bringing some aspects of their own culture in Canada. Food, languages, customs, skills… we all win.

Yet, some are scared. Who are we? We all are the faces of Canada. The traditional Anglo-European face of the country is changing, that’s true. But Canada is very much alive. National identity isn’t something static and we don’t have to look alike to form a country. A lot of things make Canada a distinct country, from the trivial little things to political choices, from geographical places to special people, from values we share to things that bring us together.

In 2008, I’ll apply for Canadian citizenship. I first came here in 2002 and I’ll be one of these foreign-born. French. Canadian. And a citizen of the world.

What defines Canada? I’m starting a series on our icons, from people to places, from everyday life’s items to sports, from trademarks to customs. Don’t expect anything too deep: this is Canada the way I see it. I don’t bring answers. I just want to share, and I will with you every Saturday — enjoy!


One of the reason we can stand the cold weather and long winters is… hockey, Canada’s national sport. Think soccer for Brazil, NFL football for the US or cricket for India. That popular. The hockey season ends with the Stanley Cup play-offs, then finals. I don’t have statistics, but I would bet that productivity at work dramatically decreases during that time!

Hockey is a really fun sport to watch. The game usually lasts 60 minutes (plus overtime if needed) and it’s a speedy game. A famous rivalry in Canada opposes Toronto’s Maple Leaf to basically the rest of the country. But Canada also love playing Russia, Sweden, Finland, and of course the USA.

Hockey is also famous for its fights, an established aspect of the sport. Elbowing, high-sticking, roughing are perfectly acceptable… and expected.

I’m not a sports person myself, but I must admit I like hockey. First, going to a game is really fun. The atmosphere is very friendly and fans of the two teams respect each other even if taunting is part of the game. Nothing like with soccer in Europe where fans are put meters apart with the anti-riots cops in-between. Second, even if you don’t understand all the rules and the lingo, you won’t be bored watching the players skate at a pretty amazing speed and hit each other (blood is bonus). A period is only twenty minutes long besides. Finally, Canadians take hockey seriously and being able to quote a great hockey moment (fight, scoring, penalty…) is the best way to make new friends!

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