Five myths about Canada 

By: Alisa Samuel

Published on: November 14 2022

Photo: Matthew Henry (Burst.shopify) 

Here are some myths and misconceptions about Canadian people and Canadian living.  

1. Winters in the Great White North are year-long. 

Canadian winters are long. It feels like they take up to six months of the year, but we have summers here, too. And sometimes scorching ones at that. The year 2021 saw one of the hottest days ever in Canadian history. On June 27, temperatures went up to around 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s as hot as the average daily temperature of the Sahara Desert in Northern Africa.  

2. Every night in Canada is hockey night. 

Sports media and the public often portray hockey as a big part of Canada’s national identity and culture. Hockey nationalism does exist in Canada, but not all Canadians, be they Canadian-born or naturalized Canadians, have a connection to the sport. Some people say that hockey shouldn’t even be celebrated as a symbol of Canada. As Kristi A. Allain, a professor in the department of Sociology at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick, argues, hockey is a straight white-male dominated sport that thereby treats fans and players of minority groups as outsiders. Read this article from The Newcomer to learn more about this perspective. 

3. Our healthcare system is free.  

There’s no such thing as “free” healthcare in Canada. Individuals technically pay for health-care goods on an annual basis through taxes. If you make up to $49 020 a year, you’re federally taxed 15 per cent of that amount. The higher your income, the more tax money you’re expected to pay the government for their services. But, as a couple of directors at the Fraser Institute have pointed out in their 2015 Toronto Sun article, Canadians don’t pay “a dedicated health insurance tax.” This means general government tax revenues fund healthcare in Canada. So, there’s no way of calculating how much of our “total tax payments go towards healthcare every year,” though clearly not enough. Canadian hospitals’ famously long wait times, short-staffed departments, and lack of physical patient supports like beds and stretchers are signs of underfunding. Canadians, in other words, don’t have a free healthcare system but a problematic tax-funded one.  

4. All Canadians speak English and French. 

The first French settlers arrived in Canada during the mid 1500s. They established colonies to trade fur and make France money. Today, one of these colonies is known as the province of Québec. Québec has the largest majority of French-speaking people in Canada. French-speaking people can be found in Saskatchewan (the Fransaskois(e)) and the Maritimes (the Acadians), too. It wasn’t until 1763, when Great Britain took over North America, that the English language was established in different regions. In 1969, English and French became the official languages of Canada in recognition of the country’s bicultural history and founding. People all across Canada can speak French, but not every Canadian is expected to. 

5. Canadians are the nicest people on the planet. 

The world insists that Canada is the friendliest country. But like all human beings in reality, Canadians can actually be rude and arrogant. People here might cut in line at the grocery store, curse each other out in acts of road rage, and hurl racial slurs at bus shelters. This isn’t to say Canadians are mean. They’re just not nicer than anyone else. This stereotype of Canadian kindness mostly stems from the fact that Canadians from small coastal and prairie towns in the country’s Atlantic provinces are usually pleasant to interact with. They have generally lower stress levels that those living and working in fast-paced and heavily populated major cities, like Toronto or Montreal.  

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