Canada, from an international perspective
The following is a reflection on Canada from recent alumna Pamy Santiago. She began her studies as an International Student from the Philippines in 2014 .
If people are to describe Canada, they might mention how polite people are, the mouth-watering poutine, maple trees that make autumn perfect, and hockey (that Canadians consider it more than just a game). These are just side dishes to the fact that Canada has produced great personalities and world-renowned achievements in the fields of sciences and the arts.
Canada has a rich history, from its Indigenous peoples, to European colonization, to immigrant integration. This has shaped a culture of diversity and inclusion that makes this planet’s second largest country a welcoming home not only for its own Canadians, but also for the many people coming from all sides of the world. As an alumna who started out as an international student at the University of Manitoba, I am no doubt more than glad to celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary and be part of this diversity.
When I was just starting at the university, I thought it would take a long time before I could feel welcomed in a country that was strange to me, but my fellow students at the U of M proved me wrong. Through the volunteer programs and opportunities offered at the university (and off campus), I was able to meet so many people who introduced me not only to independent, research and application focused Canadian education, but also to the beautiful Canadian culture that is rich with Indigenous history and mixed European cultures.
Canadians love being active and involved in the community, be it playing or coaching a sport, witnessing Indigenous ceremonies, going to the lake and camping during the summer, enjoying the music of annual festivities, or even going fishing in the middle of winter! Canadians definitely love to be out there, and they make sure they maintain their culture in their fun.
During the past 150 years (and even more than that), Canada has continued to evolve, and what I adore the most about Canada is how culturally diverse this one gigantic mass of land is. Living in this nation feels like travelling to all of the seven continents without the need of plane tickets. You just have to go out of your circle and meet people from communities of various nationalities, religions, abilities, gender preference, and languages, and all of that can be found here, in this one place. Each day, Canadians continue to learn the beliefs of others, to understand varying traditions and perspectives, and to respect each other’s differences – and this is one of the best things Canada should celebrate.
What to be proud of the most about Canadian culture is not only what is within the notes of their traditional music, or within the amazing delicacies, or popular winter sports, but about what is within the heart of a national culture that strives for equality and respect for everyone. Canada not only welcomes immigrant cultures, but also enables students from different countries to flourish in their chosen field and share their knowledge to the world, a continuing opportunity the University of Manitoba offers, 140 years in the making. Canada welcomes differences, but focuses on each other’s similarities that no matter what our roots are, we all seek greatness. A country that respects every culture is one that respects all of humanity, and that is what every Canadian should be proud of.
Happy 150th anniversary, Canada! More years to come to show how wonderful you are!