1:1 Hello English 470A!

Hello English 470A!

Welcome to our interactive inquiry of the Canadian identity!

What and who is Canadian?  Ive heard a joke about a Canadian walking into a tree and then profusely apologizing to it; for a joke to be funny it has to contain some degree of truth.  Yes, we are known for politeness, universal health care, and being an honest broker in global affairs.   But what constructs the Canadian identity?  Is our community a product of our imagination?  Some say that is the nature of nationalism.  How does Canada being a contact zone for Indigenous, European, and all sorts of cultures make this space what it is today?  At the dawn of the country’s 150th birthday, questions are raised by a University of Calgary law professor as to the authenticity of the story and the invisibility of the indigenous peoples in the formal frame work.  Did Canada only begin to exist on July 1, 1867?  What is the story and does it hold water?

Stories matter.  They help us make sense of the world.  Whether it has been created by a raven or sits on the back of a turtle from these narratives we excavate meaning, and extract lessons on relating to our surroundings.  I care deeply about the stories of the people living in a northern Cree community whose worlds are in such dire despair they want to take their own lives.  Why?  What happened?

I’m excited to be in the course and look forward to creating something bigger than its parts with all of you.  As second generation Canadian from an immigrant family the Canadian identity is something in constantly think about.  Whether you are first or tenth generation – what does being Canadian mean to you?  What is your story?

On a lighter note, below is the story of passage from being immigrants to Canadians.

Works Cited

Mahoney, Kathleen. “The roadblock to reconciliation: Canada’s origin story is false.” The Globe and Mail 10 May 2016. Web. 11 May 2016.

Peters, Russell. “How to become a Canadian citizen.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 11 May 2016.

Stefanovich, Olivia. “First Nation leaders call for action from Justin Trudeau on Attawapiskat suicide crisis.” CBC/Radio Canada 8 May 2016. Web. 11 May 2016.

“Yaahl gin tlaawhlaas gyaahlaangaay, Raven Creation Story.” Council of the Haida Nation: 2013. Web. 11 May 2016.


  1. Hi john 🙂

    I absolutely agree that some degree of truth exists behind stereotypes of Canadian identity. I also agree with your point that stories help us to make sense of the world; in particular, I think stories play a role in shaping (but also reaffirming) notions of identity, and even in shaping history.

    I find it difficult to answer your question because I often think of Canadian identity referentially. American identity, for example, seems very clear to me in comparison to Canadian identity. American identity seems to have been constructed via foregrounded notions of liberty and “the American dream” (basically, what’s in The Constitution). In comparison, Canadians seem to be defined by their tolerance and niceness, and seem to be positively received everywhere (this article offers some explanation for Canadian niceness http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20150311-can-canada-teach-the-rest-of-us-to-be-nicer). Yet, how did we arrive at these ideas about Canadian identity? What foregrounded principles or documents did we draw from? How can one understand Canadian identity non-referentially?

    Hopefully in this course we’ll come closer to answering some of these questions.

    Thanks for your insights!


    1. Hi Victoria,

      Thanks for your insights. The “referential” concept is interesting. Do we in a way define ourselves as “living in North America but not American”? Either way it is impossible to ignore the giant to the south – the U.S. is our closest ally in the world, largest trading partner, etc. I remember reading the autobiography of a politician from South East Asia, who describes Canadians as “one step behind the Americans and one ahead of the Britons” in global affairs.

      Looking forward to more thoughts from you!


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