Canada is the second-largest country in the world. Ten million square kilometers stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic Oceans. While Canada’s wilderness is vast and diverse, most people in the country live in urban and suburban settings in regions with dense populations.
Canada is a young country with three founding peoples. The Aboriginal or indigenous peoples of Canada lived here for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. There are three groups of indigenous peoples: First Nations, Inuit and Métis. French settlers first came to Canada in the 1600s, followed by English-speaking settlers from Great Britain and Ireland in the 1700s and 1800s. Over the past 200 years, people from many different ethnic and religious groups have immigrated to Canada. Today, around 20 percent of Canadians have been born outside Canada. In 1971, the country adopted an official policy of multiculturalism, which ensures equal treatment of all cultures.
While Canada is now an independent nation, it is still a member of the British Commonwealth. Canada is a constitutional monarchy and the Queen of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II, is the head of state. The elected prime minister is the head of Canada’s government. The Queen is represented in Canada by the Governor General of Canada, who is nominated by the Prime Minister and appointed by the Queen.
Ontario may only be the fourth largest province or territory in Canada but it is still quite big—it is twice the size of France, and about one third the size of India. Ontario is also the largest province by population. With over 13 million people, Ontario is home to more than one third of Canada’s population.
Almost 40 percent of the population of Canada lives in Ontario. Most Ontarians live in urban centres in the southern part of the province near the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. Ottawa, the capital city of Canada is located in Ontario on the Ottawa River, which is the border with Quebec. Ottawa is Canada’s fourth-largest city. Canada’s largest city, and the fourth largest in North America, is Toronto—6 million people live in the Greater Toronto Area.
Canadian Cultural Values and Beliefs
Canada is an open, free society where people have the right to express their opinion and practice their faith and cultural traditions. Respecting these freedoms and celebrating diversity is the foundation of Canadian culture. In Canada, the good of the many is sometimes more important than the rights of any one individual. Canadians feel strongly that education and basic health care should be free for every resident and that the government should provide income support to those in need.
Inclusivity and Diversity
Canada has a diverse society that works towards the inclusion of all people. Canada’s population includes people with differences of all kinds, such as cultural and religious backgrounds, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, and interest. By accepting and celebrating our differences, we ensure that Ontario is a place where everyone feels at home. There are many laws and policies in both Canada and Ontario that protect everyone’s human rights and encourage an inclusive society.
Norms and Expectations
Canadians have a reputation for being polite, diplomatic, and funny! Compared to their American neighbours, Canadians are often seen as quiet and reserved, and in business and politics this makes Canadians seem less aggressive and ambitious. The practice of peacekeeping was introduced by Canada. The Canadian armed forces continue to serve in peacekeeping missions around the world. And Canada often acts as mediator in global relations. Canadians are proud of this reputation for politeness and diplomacy—it is an important part of Canadian identity. But Canadians also love a good joke, especially when it’s about Canada. This identity is at the core of the norms and expectations in Canadian society.