8 Things That The World Can Learn From Canada

by Karen Green

You don’t have to be into the size of our football fields (larger) or fast-food meals (smaller) to appreciate all the great things about Canada that our beautiful country has to offer. We may be known for our vast areas of permafrost, fashion-forward trends (lumbersexuals, anyone?) and funny regional accents, but the things that make Canada such a great nation are as diverse as our people. Maybe it’s because we have become such a melting pot that our attitudes and attributes are so decidedly different from other countries, or maybe it’s just that the cold has numbed us to the things other people are intolerant of. Whatever it is, it’s working for us, and it could be working for you, too.

We can’t export our soaring mountains or stunning coasts, but like our movie stars and our oil, there’s a lot about Canada that we are happy to share. We’re not greedy—and that generosity is just one of the things Canada does that would be great to see happening in other places. And because we’re that kind of a people, here are eight more awesome things about Canada that the rest of the world should probably look into (you know, if you’re not into football).

Our humility

Sorry, but it’s true: The distinctly Canadian predilection for apologizing might seem silly, but it’s better than getting annoyed, or annoying others, whenever somebody bumps into you, holds an elevator, or takes the last bag of ketchup chips off the store shelf. Sorry means we don’t take ourselves too seriously and we can admit that we’re wrong, even when we’re not.

Our sense of humour

Self-depreciating, subtle, and biting, Canadian comedy has kept the world laughing for decades. Eugene Levy, Samantha Bee, Dan Ackroyd, Seth Rogan, John Candy, Jim Carey, Andrea Martin, Mike Meyers, Norm McDonald, Will Arnett, and Catherine O’Hara are just a few of our comedic exports. And it’s no coincidence that many of them catapulted to fame on Saturday Night Live—Lorne Michaels is a Canuck as well!

Our standards of health

You already know about our enviable health care system which guarantees that no Canadian citizen will go bankrupt due to a hospital stay, but Canadians also do much to ensure that we stay out of the hospital in the first place. Our obesity rates are lower than the U.S. at roughly 24% compared to 36%; at least 20 minutes of daily physical activity (DPA) is mandatory for children in 72% of Canadian schools, and we are ranked the 14th healthiest country in the world (the US takes the 33rd spot) based on criteria that includes infant mortality, lifespan and air pollution rates. We would have ranked higher if shoveling snow had been one of the measures.

Our brand of patriotism

Canadians know that we don’t need to wear our politics on our sleeve (or our bumper stickers) to convince our neighbours that we love our country. In fact, our most bombastic modern show of national pride was displayed in a hugely popular Y2K commercial for (what else?) beer. But if you’re looking for something a little quieter, check out spoken word artist Shane Koyczan’s spoken word piece "We Are More", which he performed during the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and which nicely illustrates our unique ability to intersect pride, patriotism and culture. You can have Yankee Doodle—we have Drake.

Our ability to chill out

One look at Canadian prime time television, with its swears and its boobs, should tell you that we are not a repressed nation. We can legally drink at 18 or 19, have been able to marry our same-sex partners for 10 years, do not support crazy laws like open carry, prefer peace-keeping missions to active fighting in foreign countries, and we like to have sex in canoes. GET ON OUR LEVEL.

Our summertime traditions

Summer is a hard-fought prize in Canada, and we take full advantage of it. The day the temperature hits zero (celcius), the barbeques get powered up, and it won’t be long after that before restaurants open their patios, legs go bare, and tents get pitched (ahem). Then, of course, comes the ultimate summer must-do for Canadians: a trip to "the cottage", which is always located “up north.” If a Canadian is not fortunate enough to have a cottage in their family, they make friends with somebody who does, and spends the entire spring ingratiating themselves to that friend until an invitation is procured. Once “up north,” Canadians takes part in activities such as playing cards, drinking beer, and having sex in canoes. Ah, summer.

Our desire to see the world beyond our borders

It could be because our winters are so darn ridiculous, but Canadians like to get away. 65% of Canadians hold a valid passport, compared to 35% of Americans. Do we think that our country is the best place in the world to be? Hell, yes (see: every preceding point), but we also like to get away from it every once in a while. I’d like to think that our exposure to other cultures abroad is also what makes us more tolerant at home, and void of the isolationist attitudes we see elsewhere.

Our food

Canada is more than poutine, maple syrup, and salt cod (though all of those delicacies are highly recommended). We also have ketchup chips, Coffee Crisp, butter tarts, and do I even have to mention our beer? But our food system is just as noteworthy for what it doesn’t have: no antibiotics or growth hormones in our meat or dairy, no olestra (a fat substitute known to cause anal leakage—fun!), and no cancer-causing brominated flour. Oh, and that “Canadian” bacon you’re eating? It’s just ham. In Canada, we call it back bacon, but if you’re looking for the authentic Canadian bacon experience, try peameal bacon, a cured pork loin rolled in cornmeal and deliciousness.

Images: Getty Images; Giphy (8)