The Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute (www.cdfai.org) and The Dominion Institute (www.dominion.ca), have put together a series about Canadian ideas and myths regarding our southern neighbours. This is interesting on a bunch of levels. I wonder how much of our prejudices are based upon a collective “mistaken self-identity” for who we Canadian are, and what our nation represents? What shade of coloured glass do we look at others through?
From the A.M. web site introduction:
Canadians share their continent with the global superpower; naturally, they are wary. Yet, centuries of interaction have brought Canadians and Americans to talk, trade, fight as allies, intermarry and immigrate to each other’s territory. As a result, Canadians believe they intuitively understand their neighbours and proclaim that we “get” the US better than anyone else.
But Canadians nonetheless cherish ideas – even myths – about Americans that may not be true. Many would agree that Americans are warlike, while Canadians are the world’s peacekeepers; that Canada is a beacon of social welfare innovation, while America is a regressive and uncaring state; that America’s ethnic melting pot is hidebound and discriminatory, while Canada’s is the enlightened and tolerant nation in North America.
But how appropriate is this conventional wisdom? Do we truly understand Americans, or have our internal political battles and insecurities led to a distorted perception of America? How do our myths about the US impact the relationship between the two nations? Most important of all, how do they affect our sense of ourselves and our ability to grapple with the challenges and opportunities Canada faces?
“American Myths” aims to challenge Canadians by provoking a critical study of their perceptions and preconceptions about their superpower neighbour. “American Myths” also endeavourers to bring forward a range of ideas and perspectives about what constitutes Canadian identity and how we can confront the challenges we face, as opposed to defining Canadian interests and identity simply in opposition to the US.
Thanks to Dick Nimijean for sending me this.
Posted Tue Jan 17th, 2006