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Life and Culture in Canada

Indian students face something similar to a ‘Culture Shock’ once they reach Canada. This is due to the vast differences that exist between the Canadian and Indian cultures.

Experiencing a culture shock can develop feelings of alienation and loneliness within students. It can even act as a hindrance in your learning process.

Therefore, it becomes very important to do all you can to avoid facing a culture shock. Ideally, you should know a little bit about Canadian culture before you leave so that you are mentally prepared for the atmosphere, lifestyle, beliefs and practices you are going to see all around you once you reach Canada.


Provinces and Territories

As far as size is concerned, Canada is much larger as compared to India. As a matter of fact, Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world and has 6 different time zones!

Canada is divided into 10 different ‘Provinces’ and 3 ‘Territories’. The provinces include Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan. The 3 territories in Canada are Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.

Just like the U.S, Canada follows a federal structure with one single Federal Government and separate Governments for each province. Even though the 3 territories also have their Governments, their roles and responsibilities are limited.

You will often come across major differences between these provinces and territories with regards to their education system, culture and laws.


Diversity and Multi – Cultural

Canada as a country is extremely diverse and comprises of people from almost every culture in the world. As a matter of fact, it is considered to be one of the most diverse and multi – cultural countries in the world!

Canada is known to have an immigrant – friendly policy which over the years, has resulted in people from different nationalities and ethnicities migrate to Canada and live here as citizens.

You will come across people from different races and cultures in Canada, including Asians, Europeans, and Africans etc. Not only that, but you can see the presence of different cultures and religions across Canada including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism etc.

Unlike most other countries, Canada encourages immigrants and citizens to preserve their own cultures while simultaneously respecting Canadian values and beliefs. This has resulted in Canada becoming a ‘melting pot’ of all the different religions, races, cultures and beliefs in the world.


Bilingual Country

Canada is officially a bilingual country, with English and French being its two official languages. Even though English is spoken widely and almost all across Canada, you will find French being spoken in a lot of areas, including throughout the province of Quebec.

You will come across many universities in Canada who conduct classes in both English and French.

It is best to try and learn at least a little bit of French in Canada, as it can help you converse easily with people and can also make you a stronger candidate while looking for jobs offered by Canadian employers.

Apart from its 2 official languages, Canada also has a significant presence of other languages like Italian, Chinese and Punjabi etc.



Due to the vast size of the country, the climate of Canada can greatly vary from place to place. There are places in Canada where the temperature does not rise above 0 degree Celsius for most part of the year, and there are places where the temperature rises above 30 degrees on an average during the summer!

Essentially, Canada has 4 seasons, which are namely Winter (December to February), Spring (March to May), Summer (June to August) and Fall (September to November).

The Canadian winter is very harsh and is difficult to deal with if you are not used to extreme winters. The average minimum and maximum temperatures in cities across Canada are mostly below zero degree Celsius.

However, you should keep in mind that almost everything in Canada has central – heating, including universities, public transport, malls, theaters etc.




Common Aspects of Western Culture (Individuality, Freedom, Friendliness, Punctuality etc.)

There are many aspects of Canadian culture that can be seen across a majority of other western countries.

There is great respect for the concept of an individual and a person’s opinions and views are respected regardless of whether you agree with them or not.

You will see that people respect their privacy and do not like it if someone tries to intrude into their personal life. It is a good idea to spend some time knowing a person before you ask or talk to them about their personal life.

Everybody is free to live their life the way they want to and have their own beliefs. You will be allowed to follow your culture and maintain your own lifestyle without any interference from anybody.

Canadians are quite friendly, open and frank in nature. Also, there is great emphasis on manners and etiquette. For example, not saying ‘Sorry’ if you bump into somebody is considered to be extremely rude. It is advisable to try and be at your politest best in Canada.

Punctuality is highly valued in Canada like it is in all other Western countries. People respect your time and expect you to respect theirs in return. Reaching anywhere more than 10 minutes late is considered to be rude.

You will be expected to inform the person beforehand in case you’re going to be late for an appointment, class or meeting.


Differences with the U.S

Contrary to popular perception, Canada is not just an extension of the U.S.A and most Canadians consider themselves to be very different from their counterparts in the U.S.

Generally, Canadians are very peace – loving and multi – cultural. Individual Freedom is valued, but there is a strong sense of community belonging as well.

There are certain aspects of the U.S culture that are very prevalent in Canada including things like competitive nature, equality etc. However, there are many other aspects of Canadian culture that make it different from the U.S and very much like countries in Europe. Influence of European culture can be seen in the way Canadians follow etiquette, the cuisine etc.

You will find influences in Canada from not only the U.S and Europe, but various other places including Asia and the Middle East.


Sports and Competition

Canadians are extremely passionate about sports. Ice – Hockey along with Lacrosse are two of the most popular sports. As a matter of fact, Ice – Hockey is the official winter sport of Canada and Lacrosse is the official Canadian summer sport.

Ice – Hockey is seen as a unifying factor that binds all the people in Canada irrespective of the differences in their cultures, origins and beliefs. The origins of Lacrosse can be traced back to the indigenous people of North America.

Apart from these 2 sports, several other sports are followed in Canada, including Canadian Football, Golf, Baseball and Soccer.

Due to the cool climate prevalent in the country, Canadians generally excel in winter sports such as Skiing, Ice Hockey and Speed Skating.


Study in Canada