Canadians And Their Social Values, Part Deux

Back in April, I blogged about a series of articles written by MacLaren McCann via the Canadian Marketing Association around Canadians and their social values. I found the first part, which addressed the specifics of these social values, absolutely fascinating!

When I saw that the second part had been published, I got all giddy and couldn’t wait to get home and blog about it! You’re welcome. 🙂 The second part of the series addresses the attitudes of acceptance and tolerance that are the hallmarks of this great nation, such as the fact that, by 2017, one in two people in Toronto and Vancouver will be visible minorities. Long time TIC.com readers will know that I absolutely agree with these attitudes and, once again, is one of the zillions of reasons why I so love Canada.

Another reason is that I don’t think these minorities have necessarily been here for generations, as in the U.S., either. Rather, because Canadian immigrants are so new to the western world, the businesses, communities, and families are authentically real. When I eat at a family-owned Vietnamese restaurant, I know that the food they’re serving is probably very similar to how it’s done in Hanoi, for example. My favourite Thai restaurant is owned by a husband and wife who only moved here from northern Thailand six years ago. Authentic, indeed.

That’s not to say that every single “native” Canadian is as welcoming as they’d like to believe; of course that’s not the case. Take a gander for yourself, though. Do these Canadian hallmarks sound different than American attitudes about attitude, tolerance, and immigration?

Canadian Social Values:

Dominant Themes in Canadian Culture

Defining Value #2
We Canadians value an attitude of acceptance and tolerance. Over the course of our history, Canadians have embraced a liberal, open attitude, extending goodwill and acceptance to others who might be different.

Because of this pervading attitude of acceptance and tolerance, Canada is not just multi-cultural, but multi-everything. Note the diversity of beliefs, lifestyles, opinions, worldviews. Some would go so far as to say that this diversity is our greatest strength. (Macleans Canada Day Poll Report, 2006)

Diversity and pluralism are celebrated in Canada. Multiculturalism, in particular, has been noted as one of the most distinctive features of our society. More Canadians cite multiculturalism as central to the national identity – more than bilingualism or hockey. Canada’s top source of national pride is Multiculturalism, second only to Democracy. (Michael Adams, Unlikely Utopia, 2007)

Adams asserts further: “Canadians aren’t unique in living in a diverse society. Rather, Canadians are distinctive in the way that they have incorporated Canada’s policy of accommodating diversity into their sense of national identity.”

(I tend to disagree with the first part of the statement – that Canadians aren’t unique in living a diverse society. Canadian diversity IS unique and more intense. Take the United States: First nations and British colonial roots, but no French. Same goes for Australia. Canada counts among its peoples a first nations group, not one but two colonial forebears, and substantial waves of immigration from all over in recent years.)

The rest of his statement, however, rings true. Canadians have imbibed a strong attitude of acceptance and tolerance, so much that it defines and binds us as a nation.

Where does this come from?

How did we get here?

History: Canada was never a unitary entity. Canadians have never been one people in one place; we’ve always been a diverse people – Aboriginals, colonial British, colonial French, European immigrants – spread across a vast territory.

Our religion – or lack of it?

Religion, by its very nature, prescribes a certain code of conduct and belief. One’s religion helps a person make sense of the world, and pass judgment on what’s acceptable or not.
Canada is a secular nation. Compared to the United States, there are twice as many Canadians who say they have no religious affiliation. Church attendance has been on a steady decline, with almost 2 in 5 Canadians saying they never/almost never attend church. With less religiosity, Canadians are less likely to adhere to hard-and-fast, black-and-white judgments on right or wrong. This, in turn, makes for a more laissez-faire stance towards difference in beliefs/lifestyles.

Points of Evidence
Canadians are a tolerant and accepting people, who value and celebrate diversity. Festivals such as Caribana, Taste of the Danforth, Pride are the most obvious (and colourful) expressions of such.

Other data points support this value:
• By 2017, 1 in 2 people in Toronto and Vancouver will be visible minorities.
• 57% of Canadians live side-by-side within the five largest cities. Canadians – of whatever colour or stripe – are able to live amicably in close proximity to one another. Contrast this with other modes of settlement where people who are “different” confine themselves to either ghettoes or gated enclaves.
• 78% of Canadians believe immigration is good for the country (vs 64% of Americans).
• Canada was the fourth country in the world and the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide

A Marketing Reference
In one of the most iconic pieces of Canadian advertising, The Rant aka I Am Canadian from Molson’s, “Joe” actually lays out the policy, and the pervading belief of Canadians – I believe in diversity, not assimilation. [Ed. note: this is a fantastic commercial and one I blogged about long ago!]

During the Olympics, Tim Horton’s aired a spot that drew directly from the immigrant narrative – the first things that newcomers to Canada experience are the cold, and Tim Hortons. The spot rose to the top as both “Most Memorable” and “Best Ad.” (Marketing Magazine, April 19, 2010)

Of late, Virgin and LCBO tipped their hat to the LGBT communities in their ads targeted to their mainstream audience, signaling that sexual orientation is a non-issue for these brands.

Lee Chapman, Strategic Planner, MacLaren

Photo credit: www.slapupsidethehead.com

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