Canadians are known as the most polite, thoughtful, and peace-loving people on the planet. In fact, Canadians are often portrayed as people who apologize even when they are innocent.
In general, this is accurate. Canadian society highly values tolerance, humility, and non-violence. The following are 8 of the more common cultural norms observed in Canadian society.
This is what they value and underlies much of their behavior. Having this idea will help you have a deeper understanding of Canada and guide you in your own cultural immersion.
In an egalitarian society, people are considered equal. This is why hierarchy is not very visible. Everyone deserves equal rights and opportunities in this society regardless of gender, age, race or creed.
Most Canadians are casual in dress and language. You’ll notice that there is no strict dress code in the workplace (unless you work in a bank or law office).
Clothing is informal to casual. In general, first names are used as nicknames. Even seniors (or superiors) are called by their first names.
However, when meeting someone for the first time, it is safer to experience them by Mr./Mrs./Ms. (or a professional title such as Dr.) and their last name.
More often than not, they will tell you that you can call them by their first name especially as you become more familiar with each other.
3. Order and privacy
Canadians value order and preserving their personal space. They also value personal privacy. It would be wise to avoid discussions about salary, family life, weight, religion and other personal topics.
It is also understood that a person has rights to their own property, so be sure to ask permission before using anything that does not belong to you.
Disruptive behavior, such as cutting in line, talking non-stop, shouting, speaking loudly is definitely frowned upon. Decorating is part of maintaining order and respecting other people’s space.
4. Individualistic but community-oriented
Canadians are very aware of their responsibilities to society. Although individualistic when it comes to personal values (such as protecting personal space), contributing to the betterment of the community is a priority.
Canadians get involved by volunteering, donating, and by generally maintaining pride and closeness to their communities.
Punctuality is highly valued in Canada. Punctuality is a sign that you value them. Everyone is expected to arrive on time or at least 5-10 minutes in advance. Likewise, deadlines are taken seriously. This is equivalent to honoring your commitments. This is also an indication of your integrity.
This trait is often demonstrated through politeness, punctuality, tolerance and social order. It is considered harassment to speak disparagingly about a person’s appearance, beliefs, age, gender and status in life.
Often communication is indirect in an attempt to be polite and diplomatic. However, Canadians may openly disagree, but with diplomacy.
Note that verbal communication is also pragmatic especially in the workplace. You are expected to be clear and direct, not to “beat around the bush” and talk yourself out of it.
7. Multiculturalism and diversity
Historically, Canada began to develop into a strong nation by welcoming immigrants. Today, he continues to appreciate the richness and diversity that various cultures provide to society.
In 1971, Canada became the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy. It affirms the right of people to maintain their unique cultural identity and promotes cross-cultural understanding and harmony.
8. Political Correctness
Political correctness is refraining from saying or doing things that exclude, insult or marginalize groups of people. And because Canada is diverse and multicultural, knowing how to be politically correct is important to living in harmony with everyone.