It is worth noting that many people consider the culture of Canada to be contradictory. They stress that it is based on a constant desire to differ from the neighboring country – the USA. Nonetheless, some individuals believe that both states exhibit varieties of common cultural heritage. In addition, the majority of the population of the country prefers thinking that there is an independent Canadian culture.
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The parties are appealing to various facts, including the integration of Indian culture, the influx of Celtic immigrants, and the preservation of traditions of both English and French settlers and so on (Ashley, 2013). Also, since the 1970s, the state has pursued a special policy to create conditions for immigrants. Nevertheless, the constant confrontation and debate about the peculiarities of Canadian culture gradually lead to the fact that the issue of people’s self-identification becomes even more acute. The purpose of this paper is to dwell upon the controversy I have experienced when forming my views on national and cultural identity.
The Issue of Identification
Despite the fact that Canada is not a young country, its citizens still face the problem of identity and cannot clearly define what the Canadian culture means to them. I had encountered a similar problem when I was trying to answer the question of whether the adoption of culture serves as a basis for my cultural and self-identity. Notably, national identity implies not only the objective but also subjective factors; in particular, public consciousness is of great importance in this aspect.
It is believed that national identification involves the compilation of three elements, such as cognitive, affective, and regulative (Ashley, 2013). From the point of view of the cognitive element, people should possess the formed representations of their connection to a particular culture. It is important that Canada used to be a British dominion for a long time, and the elements of the Westminster system still have an impact on the life of the population.
Concerning the affective component, it is associated with perceptions and feelings of people in relation to the culture of their country. It is worth emphasizing that the issue of the national identity of Canadians is still acute, which indicates that the affective component is also not strong enough. In addition, the regulatory component is reflected in the model of the political behavior of the population (Ashley, 2013). The neighboring state (the USA) has a great influence on Canada, and the state strives to emphasize its individualism in a deliberate way. The factors described above have led me to an understanding that I was experiencing a problem of national and cultural identity as well as many other residents of the country.
A Different Perspective on Identity
The arguments provided above suggest that strong national identity is not a characteristic feature of the Canadian culture for a number of historical, political, and social reasons; nevertheless, I do not agree with this statement and believe that the experience of the country should be used as a basis for the formation of cultural self-identification. In particular, the preamble of the Multiculturalism Act states that the government encourages the diversity inherent in the population of the country, and this peculiarity is a fundamental feature of Canadian society (Ashley, 2013). Therefore, the basis for the national identity of the population should not be one specific culture but rather the multiculturalism, which has developed in the course of history.
Some people might question the potential of multiculturalism on the way to establishing the national identity. It can be assumed that the argument in support of this position will be the fact that multiculturalism is characteristic of other countries apart from Canada. In addition, for such a principle to be recognized as the basis for national identity, it is necessary to ensure that all Canadians share these values. Moreover, it is essential to establish a universal base of common values for the entire population so that multiculturalism does not stratify society but rather unites it. Therefore, the potential of this approach lies in the way people perceive it.
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Thus, it can be concluded that the principles of the national and cultural identity of the Canadian population are contradictory for a variety of cultural, political, social, and other reasons. In addition, in recent years, the country has faced issues related to local and transnational social transformations, which inevitably affect people’s self-perceptions and their views of the country (Ashley, 2013). The modern processes, as well as historical ones, change both the image of the state and the citizens’ awareness of their belonging to the country.
Despite the fact that the state carries out an active policy aimed at the formation of cultural identity, its result is the difficulty experienced by people in the process of national self-identification. Nevertheless, having analyzed the country’s background and my own representations of cultural identity, I believe that multiculturalism characteristics of Canada should be used as a solid platform for building strong self-identity and citizenship.
Ashley, S. (Ed.). (2013). Diverse spaces: Identity, heritage and community in Canadian public culture. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.