Canada is a multicultural nation of immigrants from every continent, with French and English as its two official languages.
Religions: Roman Catholics – 38.7%, No religion – 23.9%, United Church – 6.1%, Anglican – 5%, Islam – 3.2%, Baptist – 1.9%, Lutheran – 1.5%, Hindu – 1.5%, Presbyterian – 1.4%, Sikh – 1.4%, Buddhist – 1.1%, Jewish – 1%, Other Christian – 11.7%
Canadians are friendly and peaceful people who use shaking of hands as a normal form of greeting. Close friends and relatives greet each other with hugs and public kissing on the cheeks. Couples may publicly kiss each other on the lips. Canadians do not hug strangers.
There is no rule about greeting strangers one encounters in an elevator (lift) or other public place. Some will offer a greeting and engage you in friendly conversation about the weather or sports. Many prefer to keep silent, though they may acknowledge you with a very brief smile. Do not be offended if a stranger does not acknowledge your presence. They mean no harm.
Making direct eye contact is a critical part of communication. Failure to maintain eye contact during a conversation or other verbal communication raises suspicions about one’s truthfulness or good intentions. It can cost a good candidate an otherwise excellent interview. This, of course is the exact opposite of the East African tradition that considers such direct eye contact, especially when speaking with an elder or supervisor, to be disrespectful. Neither culture is wrong. Just different.
Canadians take celebration of birthdays, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas/Hannukah very seriously. Families get together, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hannukah. Plenty of food is consumed. Gifts are exchanged at Christmas. There is a jovial atmosphere all round.
Canadians also accord Valentine’s Day and Halloween special status. However, commemoration of the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ and celebration of His resurrection usually pass without much excitement. Unlike their American cousins to the south, Canadian celebration of their National Day on July 1st is relatively muted. Not that Canadians are any less passionate or patriotic than Americans. As in most things, they simply take things in stride.
One thing Canadians are crazy about is ice hockey. East African people’s love affair with soccer pales in comparison to the near-religious reverence for hockey. Interestingly, Canada’s original national sport was lacrosse. This is a contact sport that uses a small rubber ball, played with a long stick called a Crosse. Attached to the stick is a mesh that catches the ball. It dates back to ancient times, perhaps as many as 900 years ago, when it was invented by the First Nations (native) people who called it baggataway. It was adapted to its present form by Anglophone Montreal Canadians in the 1850s.
In 1994, the Parliament of Canada passed a bill declaring hockey and lacrosse to be winter and summer national sports, respectively.
In recent years, soccer has become very popular among the young people, with early school age children participating in intense practice and serious tournaments. Baseball is also popular. Cricket is hardly played except by immigrants from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Africa and the Caribbean.
The greatest Canadian culture is that of acceptance of diversity, differences of opinion and genuine promotion of human rights and freedoms. Central to this is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), a public broadcaster that is funded by the Government of Canada, but enjoys complete editorial and journalistic independence from the state. It broadcasts across the entire country and around the world, never afraid to report news and comment that may be critical and unfavourable to the incumbent prime minister or his government.
Music & Drama
Canada’s multicultural communities have a very rich variety of musical and other artistic offerings including European classical music, American Jazz music and sounds from every nation on Earth. Two of the famous Jazz music festivals are the TD Toronto Jazz Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival .
Every city and most medium to large towns in Canada have a classical symphony orchestra. Many are world class, with recordings that have won awards and citations. Some of the world class ensembles are: Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir in Toronto. Likewise, the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada are top notch outfits that always satisfy audiences and critics.
Afrofest, an annual event of live outdoor African music making that was started in 1989 by Thaddy Ulzen and Sam Mensah, attracts over 100,000 music lovers. Held in Toronto during the first weekend of July, Afrofest is a fine example of a rich celebration of music by recent immigrants from Africa. It was a 2-day event until 2015. The City of Toronto has reduced it to a one day event effective July 2016.
The annual Caribana (Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival Festival) is a celebration of Caribbean heritage through music, the display of beautiful costumes and colorful floats, and other cultural activities. It has been held annually since 1967. Similar cultural events take place in most major cities in the country.
These are just a few of the cultural offerings in this vast country. Year round there is something to suite every taste. You will find something that will meet your tastes right here.