Friday, 9 January 2009

Canadian stereotypes.

What kind of stereotypes do people form about Canadians? Here are some of the usuals:

-They live in igloos (false).
-They really like hockey (true, I haven't met a Canadian who doesn't love hockey and at least semi follow it).
-They're too trusting of their Government (I don't know enough about the Canadian political situation to say whether their "trust" is justified, but anyway, they're no more trusting than people in the USA or the UK, I think, and certainly not to the extent of those in Finland).
-They hate it when you think they're American (True, but it's fair enough, isn't it? I'm resentful when people assume I'm Australian).
-The east and west hate each other (Not exactly, the "divide" seems to be on the same level as the North/South divide in England).
-Quebec and the rest of the country hate each other (Well...yes, sort of).
-They say "eh" a lot (True).
-They're really, really friendly (...).

I'm certainly not denying that Canadians are outgoing. They talk to anyone, they LOVE talking to British/Irish people (especially if they have even a very tenuous family tie to the UK or Ireland), they're definitely not shy. They say "Hi, how are you?" every time you see them, even if you only saw them 3 minutes earlier. They're happy to lend you money, give you directions, carry out all manner of favours for you. They're not bitchy, they want everyone to be happy, they buy people drinks very liberally (from working in a bar, I know they practically fight over who gets to buy the drinks. Of course, they "fight" in a very agreeable, friendly manner), they invite people round for drinks, to watch films, for Christmas dinner, to smoke the drop of a hat. In this sense, I'd agree that Canadians are really, really friendly.

However, this very quick "friendship" simultaneously permits Canadians to take the piss out of you, swear at you, and generally treat you like their kid sister. In my British friendships, I don't expect to be treated this way until we've been friends six months, possibly lived together, got drunk together on a weekly basis and probably signed a contractual agreement, allowing us to be horrible to each other whilst remaining best friends. In Canada, they move a lot more quickly. Once the initial "Hello, how are you? Oh, you're English, that's so cool, I'm English too, well, my grandmother's next-door neighbour's dog went to London once anyway..." is out of the way, Canadians will happily call you a loser, berate your accent/clothes/favourite tv programme, tell you to piss off, try and trick you, and tell you about their favourite sex acts. It's all in jest (I hope), but it's very quick. Sometimes I'm surprised by how my co-workers/customers speak to me, because I feel we haven't yet courted the new friend procedure for long enough. Usually we take it a little slower in the UK. Get married before we make jokes about each other/buy one another a drink. Canadians just move much more quickly.

(Disclaimer: This entry is intended in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, and I'm not trying to claim that all Canadians are friendly-yet-playfully-rude, and nor that all British people are repressed-and-polite. These are just casual observations, and now that I know people other than my friends and family actually read this blog, I feel I should point out that I am not narrow-minded, xenophobic or judgemental. I love you, Canadians, even if you're incapable of pronouncing 'worcestershire' xoxo).

1 comment:

Victoria said...

I Love your disclaimer! Very well done. I laughed a lot when I read the comment from the Hutterite! hehe Love you x x x