Canadian Culture and Traditions is Turly A Varied Amalgamation

Canadian Culture and Traditions
Canada's culture, its heritage, is a collage of cultures made from various ethnicities that conquered this land, immigrated to it, and by those who were there before any of this happened. In what follows, we will understand how it is possible for the culture of a country to be so varied, that an effort to define it will always reach an impasse.
Every country can, in some way, identify with its culture, even though it's a tad diverse. However, in Canada, various cultures have developed simultaneously, together forming a joint culture of the country. To understand these concepts better, let's start where it all started.

For thousands of years, Canada was inhabited by indigenous people and ethnicities, until one day in 1534, when Jacques Cartier claimed this 'territory' for France. Later, a huge part of this newly-found territory was named New France. However, after the Seven Years' War, in 1763, the French gave away all claims of this territory to Britain. This happened in accordance with the Treaty of Paris. Mind you, the French had by now been here for a very long time, and had left behind a way of life that wasn't going to be easy to erase. Contradictory to what a lot of people then thought, the British government came up with the Quebec Act. According to this very generous act (no pun intended), French civil law was retained, free practice of the Catholic faith was guaranteed, and if that wasn't enough, it also returned territorial extensions that were previously enjoyed. It is this act that allowed the Francophone culture to continue thriving. From then on, cultures of two countries in addition to the culture of the indigenous people and of those who immigrated in large numbers, grew together.

Symbols
The Maple Leaf
The Maple Leaf

It's a little difficult to understand the symbols this country uses to represent itself and its people. The maple leaf has been associated with Canada for the longest time, and is thus, also a part of its national flag. The beaver and the Canadian horse represent the national animals of this nation, while the maple tree stands as the national tree. Red and white are Canada's national colors. However, one thing that must be noted here, is that even though the maple tree has been associated with Canada for so long, it is not an official floral emblem, nor is any other flower/tree.

The Canadian Horse The Beaver
The Maple Tree
Clockwise: The Canadian Horse, the Beaver and the Maple Tree

Apart from these national symbols, it is very important to talk about the royal symbols of this country. The Queen uses the Royal Standard when she represents and acts particularly as Queen of Canada on a global platform. Photographs of the Queen can be seen on government buildings, on stamps and also on the penny, and other Canadian currency in general. Another important royal symbol is the Flag of the Governor General of Canada, which represents him.

Language: The practice of official bilingualism

English and French have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and Government of Canada.
- Constitution of Canada

The country of Canada follows 'official bilingualism', in which both English and French have equal status. Federal government-oriented businesses have to provide services in both these languages, so do lower tiers of government and local businesses. It is very important that all goods and services have terms mentioned in both these languages. This conduct is to be followed mandatorily. However, Quebec is the only unilingual province which recognizes only French as its official language. Other exceptions to this rule are Nunavut, which also recognizes Inuktitut as an official language. Also, in the Northwest Territories, nine aboriginal languages have official status. Basic education is provided in both languages. However, rules and regulations concerning language in education keep changing from city to city, and also depend on the type of schooling opted for.

Religion

A majority of Canadians consider religion to be unimportant, but still believe in a God.
- Result of a Poll by National Post

St. Joseph's Oratory, Montreal
Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal, Quebec: The largest church in Canada

Freedom of religion in this country is a right protected by the constitution. Believers of any faith are given the freedom to assemble, worship and preach without any interference. The earliest religions in the country were largely animistic. French and British introduced Christianity. The introduction of Christianity saw a lot of conversion. Today, approximately 77% Canadians follow Christianity, while most others don't follow any religion at all. Other religions that exist in Canada are Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism, among others.

Festivals
Winterlude
Winterlude
Hot Balloon Festival in Quebec
Balloon Festival
Food festivals, film festivals, children's festivals, music festivals, comedy festivals, literary festivals, cultural festivals - name any festival, and Canada will have a place for it. A lot of events are held year-round all over the country, with people attending from the entire world. Festivals credited for the largest attendance are Winterlude, Celebration of Light, Just for Laughs, Canadian National Exhibition, Calgary Stampede, and Pride Toronto; each of these has an attendance of more than a million. The country also plays host to a number of exhibitions. We can rightly conclude that in Canada, there is a festival for everyone.

Art: Finding an Identity
Though art and talent in this country have been criticized by many, the achievements of several Canadian artists on a global platform have established otherwise. The government has always supported upcoming talent, and provides many avenues where an artist can showcase his/her skills. Artists get a lot of exposure and their works are featured on various platforms such as publications funded by the government. Several art schools have been opened throughout the country; this remains a continuous process.

Painting
A lot of painters in Canada were influenced by European trends and these cultural influences showed in their work. Noted painters include Cornelius Krieghoff, Paul Kane, David Mine and the Group of Seven; paintings done by these usually portrayed the landscapes and wilderness of the country. The Group of Seven, also known as the Algonquin school, were responsible for developing what we can say is the Canadian style of painting. Abstract art included paintings by William Ronald and Jack Bush, who belonged to another group, called Painters Eleven.

Sculpture
Sculpture in Canada was and still is dominated by the Inuit artists; so much that it is gifted by the government to foreign dignitaries. It is mostly styled with carvings of muskox horns, soapstone, caribou antler and walrus ivory. It has, since the beginning, concentrated on happenings in day-to-day life and by legends of the Inuit.

Literature: Classic and Contemporary
Just like art, literature in Canada was influenced by France and Britain. Early literature in Canada was written in both French and English, and combined with contemporary literature, it is called CanLit. Earlier, Canada's literature focused on nature and frontier life. Sometime in the mid-20th century, authors started focusing on finding a Canadian voice distinct from earlier influences. One will find the issue of national identity discussed in many writings since then onward. Though several writers have contributed heavily to literature in Canada, the most famed are Yann Martel, Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood, who have all won the Man Booker Prize, and Carol Shield who has won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Theater: Dramas, Plays and Festivals
Compared to other art platforms, the theater scene in Canada has been flourishing since the 1800s. The Shaw Festival and Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario are particularly very famous, and attract many tourists in summers. Almost all major cities in Canada have theater groups and excellent platforms to showcase their plays. The Toronto Theatre District is the 3rd-largest English-speaking district globally. Many other theater groups tour in Canada due to the active scenario here. Edmonton International Fringe Festival , one of the largest fringe festivals, is also hosted by Canada.

Hollywood North: Film in Canada
Movies made in any country in the world have a connection, in some way, to that particular country. In Canada, the biggest problem filmmakers face, is in trying to find this identification. Cinema in Canada has always been overshadowed by that of their mighty neighbor. Movies are brilliantly made, but poor reception doesn't bring in money as it does elsewhere in the world. Also, a lot of artists, filmmakers included, prefer working for Hollywood. The country's biggest studios are essentially located in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. The industry is basically divided in French and English-Canadian productions. Notable filmmakers include David Cronenberg and Guy Maddin from English Canada; Claude Jutra and Gilles Carle from French Canada. On the other hand, Canadian directors who made it big in Hollywood are Norman Jewison, Jason Reitmon and of course the much-talented James Cameron. The first Canadian movie to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film was The Barbarian Invasions.

Media: Television and more...

Media organizations should reflect equal rights, the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature society and the special place of aboriginal peoples within that society.
- Section 3 of the Canadian Broadcasting Act

Just like the movies, content broadcasted on television in Canada is overshadowed by shows broadcasted from its neighbor. Add to this, magazines and other forms of media. As far as the television industry is concerned, it's divided between both public and privately-owned businesses. The companies 'Global' and 'CTV' broadcast throughout the country in English. Similarly, companies 'V' and 'TVA' broadcast in French; their services however, are available only in Quebec and a few regions nearby. Media ownership is regulated by the government through the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Amongst other service providers, this body has also recognized the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network as a service provider in three Canadian territories; availability is only possible through cable services. Canada was ranked 10th in 2011-12 by Reporters Without Borders, an organization that ranks countries based on their press freedom records. Television in the country is almost synonymous with cable services.

Music: Then and Now
Aboriginal communities had always, and still do practice musical traditions unique to each group. After them, the French settled in Canada, bringing with them a great love for music; so much that even Aboriginal children were taught European instruments such as violins and guitars in school. In French colonies, music was then onward composed on a great scale, but unfortunately, not much of it was recorded, and thus, not even published. The music scene in Canada broadened further from 1815 to 1850, during the Great Migration of Canada; immigrants mostly involved British, Irish and Scottish citizens. Much progress was seen for a hundred years, and artists slowly started gaining a lot of recognition in the country. However, due to less scope, many preferred settling in the United States. Some of the most notable Canadian artists are Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, Neil Young and Shania Twain. The entire music broadcasting is governed by CRTC. Juno Awards, a venture started in 1970, honors artists from all sectors and is regulated by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Sport: Winter and Summer
Sport is highly appreciated in Canada, and it has many teams take part in various tournaments, representing several sports. Ice hockey is Canada's national winter sport, whereas Lacrosse is the official summer sport. The most common games citizens participate in are (in no particular order): ice hockey, volleyball, baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, swimming, skiing, tennis and cycling. Ice hockey is the most popular spectator sport and also the most successful globally. Lacrosse, on the other hand, is the country's oldest sport and has Native American origins. It however, isn't as popular as Canadian football, which happens to be the second most popular sport but hasn't received national recognition. Canada has won 278 Olympic medals in Summer games and 145 in winter games; Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes have won the most number of medals.

Game of Ice Hockey
Ice Hockey
Game of Ice Lacrosse
Lacrosse
Architecture
Architecture in Canada has always been very diverse; changing climatic conditions have demanded adaptation differently. The semi-nomadic people built wigwams, long houses symbolized permanent agricultural settlements, the tipi was developed by people who followed bison herds, the Interior landscape is known for the semi-permanent pit house, the remains of which we can see today in the form on quiggly holes. The most impressive architecture however, is that of the Haida people. Since wood was scarce in the North, architectural styles turned out innovative, the best example of which is the igloo. With the arrival of the French, style of housing suddenly was influenced by their actual roots; at that time, it was the Baroque architecture. Though they retained the single-storey concepts, houses saw taller roofs, which helped in getting rid of the accumulated snow.

Canadian Home
Homes with long roofs
Yaletown, Vancouver
A contemporary metro city
With the arrival of the British, houses were now constructed in the Cape Cod style. Also, Georgian was a popular style in pre-revolutionary America, something the loyalists retained with their move to Canada. From the mid-19th century until the First World War, Victorian styles dominated architecture. Eventually, Canada thought it needed a identity of its own, and this gave rise to the Ch√Ęteau Style, also known as the Railway Gothic. Canada's railway hotels portray this style the best. Toronto and a few other metropolitan cities continued to be influenced by the architectural styles of New York and Chicago. Today, the housing styles and other constructions are on par with other global contemporary styles, making edits only where weather conditions demand it.

Human Rights
Gay Pride
Gay Pride Crosswalk, Vancouver
Canada signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Along with this declaration, it has in its own right, implemented a lot of other laws that help in building a liberal and fair nation. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian Human Rights Act and Canadian Human Rights Commission, together with provincial laws, protect their citizens. Canada is a welcoming country, this much is known to all those who know of global culture. Crime rates have been on a gradual decrease for decades now. After passing the Civil Marriage Act in 2005, Canada became the fourth country, to legalize same-sex marriages.

Cuisine

Poutine
Poutine
Maple Syrup
Maple Syrup
Canada does not have a national dish. A distinct cuisine as such still has to arise on the global stage. Of course, there are several dishes that are Canadian per se. Globe and Mail conducted a survey on Facebook, in pursuit of finding what citizens thought should be the country's national dish. These were the results:-
Poutine - 51%
Montreal-styled bagels - 14%
Salmon jerky - 11%
Others - 24%

Nanaimo Bars
Nanaimo Bars
Butter Tarts
Butter Tarts
The indigenous people in Canada styled their cuisine with the local resources available to them. Wild game, agricultural produce and foraged foods usually made it to the platter. Preparation techniques differed from tribe to tribe, but overall they were very basic in nature. A tradition that has continued till date, is the inclusion of maple syrup in most dishes. Canada is globally the largest producer of maple syrup. Muktuk is a popular snack made from whale skin and blubber. Pacific salmon has always been a common item. With the arrival of the conquerors, came styles native to their homelands. Immigration added more variety to regional cuisine. For example, falafels and Shawarma are served throughout Canada. Desserts include the famous Nanaimo bars and butter tarts. Nanaimo bar originated in Canada, whereas the butter tart is commonly associated with Canadian cuisine.
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