Since moving here, I have spoken to quite a few people from other countries (in part because I’m in a program dominated by students from abroad, and in part because I live in a student apartment complex called ‘international house’).
Upon meeting them, many of my new friends have been excited to discover that I’m from Canada. I’m coming to realize that this is because people from outside the United States see Canada as some kind of tabula rasa onto which they can project their own national anxieties.
This is manifested by people saying ‘You know, Canada is a lot like my country, (X) because of (Y)’. Here are a few of those statements I have heard from other people so far:
- Canada is like Australia because our relationship with England is like yours with the United States.
- Canada is like New Zealand because our relationship with Australia is like yours with the United States.
- Canada is like Belgium because we have two language solitudes too!
- Canada is like Switzerland because everyone likes us internationally and we don’t really deserve it.
- Canada is like Ireland/Wales/Scotland because we are always trying to identify ourselves in some way.
- Canada is like India because of our relationship to Pakistan (I should have paid more attention during this explanation, but it was decidedly anti-Pakistan).
- Canada is like Iraq (I stopped the speaker here, because no, it’s not).