Life in Canada
Life in Canada is different than life in any other country.
“Peace, order and good government” is what Canadian society lives by.
USA society believes in “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Yes, Canadians are different from Americans – you can really offend a Canadian by mistaking him/her for an American!
Canadian society believes in the rule of law. Not all our laws are good ones, but we follow them until we change them.
For example, if you own a house, the law says you must shovel the snow in front of your house. If you don’t, you can be fined. If you want to cut a tree in front of your house (on your property), you must get the city government to allow you to. Another example of a law that not everybody agrees with is that people over 80 years old are allowed to drive.
Canadian people are known to be very polite. There’s a joke: “How do you know a person is Canadian? You step on his/her foot and he/she says ‘Sorry’ 🙂 Children in Canada are taught to be very polite and adults talk politely to their children. Don’t be surprised when your little son or daughter will start crying because “mommy didn’t say sorry to me”. They’ve been taught this.
Canadians usually follow rules, laws and instructions. Here’s another joke that reflects this: “How do you get 400 Canadians out of the big swimming pool? You say: ‘Please, get out of the swimming pool.” And everyone will listen. And get out of the pool.
Canadians are also famous for their orderly line-ups. To read more about Canadian society and culture, click on “Canadian Culture and People“.
Multiculturalism policy was adopted by the Canadian government during the 1970s and 1980s. Many immigrants come to Canada because of it. USA has been described as a ‘melting pot’ – after you immigrated to America, you become American. In Canada, it’s different – you can keep your own cultural identity together with your new Canadian identity. In Canada, you become bi-cultural. To know more about how this works, click “Multiculturalism – what it really means“.
It’s good to learn about Canadian holidays and how they are celebrated because your children growing up in Canada will most likely consider Thanksgiving and other holidays to be ‘their’ holidays. If you want your family to stay strong and united, it makes sense to learn about Canadian celebrations.
As soon as new immigrants come to Canada, they get a credit card. And then they are offered another one. And later another one. How many credit cards to have and how to make payments? What is a family budget? Why do so many Canadians live in debt? Find the answers to these and many other questions in the “Money and Banking” section.
Many immigrants come to this country because they heard the healthcare system here is good. They are often shocked to discover that the emergency room wait times in big cities could be 3 hours ( or it could be 4 hours or 6 hours). Or that the ambulance service is not free (it can cost anywhere between $45 to $500). The system is not perfect. A new immigrant needs to learn how to use this system in a smart way. Click on “Healthcare” to read more.
Canadian education system often comes as another surprise. Again, an immigrant family needs to learn to navigate the system and use it to their advantage. Another reason for surprise here is that Canadian school system reflects the cultural values of Canadian society, so you need to understand those values. Then you can see how the system is benefiting your child. Click on “Education” to learn more.
New immigrants need to be careful in Canada just as they would be careful in their first countries, sometimes even more. Not all people around you are honest. Keep yourself and your family safe by learning about “Identity theft / Fraud / Scams” . Because English is not your first language, do not sign any papers or agree to anything you don’t understand. Be careful not to answer ‘yes’ if the meaning is not completely clear. Also, know about the Legal Aid and always ask for more help and advice – this is a new country and the systems are different.
For a new immigrant, even such simple social rituals as gift giving can come with a surprise. “Gift Giving” is part of a country’s culture: in which situation to give a gift and what to choose is something to think about. For example, you don’t give anything to your new doctor, the best gift for a teacher is a signed card (not a mug), and perfume is never a good gift in this country (except to your best friend whose tastes you know and who doesn’t have allergies to cologne).
Being an immigrant, there’s a lot to learn. If you are still preparing for immigration or already immigrated, you need to continue looking for information that will make your life in this country easier and more comfortable.