Roshak has lived in Canada since he was 7 years old and came back to Iran a few months ago to work on renewable energies. He has a BA from University of British Columbia and has done his MA in Barcelona’s Graduate School of Economics. Living in Canada for nearly 18 years gave him a broad sense of the Canadian culture, history, and society.
He started with a brief introduction on Canada’s geographical features; “Canada is a vast country with a small population of 35 million people living on the border to the US and this has heavily affected the relationship they have with their Southern neighbor; Canada has no core identity or cultural elements, although two main cultures reside alongside each other, Anglo culture and the French Culture. We also have the indigenous and immigrant culture who shaped the Canadian culture.”
Going through more details, Roshak continued introducing 6 regions of Canada “Toronto is the heart of Canadian economy and the biggest city; Quebec has a long history of separatism and they never forget their identity; while on east coast people have Irish and Scottish roots, on west coast is the culture is mostly European and Asian..the center is the agricultural hub of Canada…On the bottom we have Alberta which is often referred to as Canada’s Texas. We have a lot of bears in that region and it’s normal to be walking on the street and see a bear.”
“Vancouver in the west is Canada’s third largest city, which is usually in the top 5 cities in terms of livability on the Economist Magazine; it is also famous for its useful and precise urban planning strategies; the city is very different from other parts of Canada and is often referred to as the most “unCanadian” city and it’s also very unaffordable and very unequal; in this city soccer is more popular than hockey! Starbucks is more popular than Tim Horton. Vancouver people are stereotyped as being very health-obsessed!” he said.
He added “22% of Canada’s population are immigrants. Although Quebec is different and while its people are clear about what it means to be Quebecois, other Canadians have a hard time defining what it means to be Canadian.”
In terms of current national identity they have, he said, the institutions related to Canada’s National identity formed in a 30 year period, from 1950 to 1980. In that short period of time this country formed its flag, its constitution, official multi-culturalism, official bilingualism, universal health care, which according to polls, they regard it as the most important national institution.
“In this period ice hockey became Canada’s most popular sport and Tim Horton’s restaurants were founded; these restaurants to Canada are what McDonald’s are to Americans and most Canadians, when they think about their national cuisine, they think of Tim Horton,” he underlined.
“Canada tries to build a national identity by different measures,” he said, adding “one of them is an NGO that makes one-minute videos called “Heritage Minutes” about significant moments of Canadian history; Canadian identity if often a negation of American identity.”
On politics and identity, he noted “accordingly, different parts of the political spectrum put a different meaning of Canadian identity forward, according to their agenda. Just compare campaign ads by Stephen Harper, former PM and Justin Trudeau, current PM of Canada. They emphasize different aspects of Canadian identity.”
Roshak, himself involved with different peace movements inside the University, underlined that the largest peace organization in Canada is Canadian Peace Congress formed in 1991; “today it’s very active and the leader of the congress has been recently in Syria as part of a peace delegation; they also tried to ship aid to Gaza, but they Zionist lobby could dissuade university in stopping the effort.”