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Canadian National Identity and Canadian Hockey
The Canadian administrative system in place has endorsed the national identity of Canada with hockey. Back in 90s, when the then Prime Minister of Canada, Chretien, started trade diplomacy with other countries, he always declared every participant as part of the Canadian Team. In the tenure of the same Prime Minister, an ex-National Hockey League player and icon, Frank Mahovlich was chosen as a senator. Some years later, memorial postage stamp of the famous 1972 Canada/Russia hockey series was launched which has the winning goal by Paul Henderson in the depiction. Looking at more recent past (i.e. 2002), one finds "The Pond" at the backside of Canadian Five Dollar notes.
Though with the passage of time, these events seem to grow in number, they do have quite a few significant examples in history as well. Quite few decades ago, in the early 1940s and 1950s, Maurice "the Rocket" Richard gained the status of national hero by becoming a foremost goal-scorer in the stressful relationships that existed between the Quebec and English Canada at the time (CANOE-CNEWS, 2004). While, looking at 80s and 90s, in the era of free trade saga, Edmonton Oilers prodigy Wayne Gretzky gained the celebrity status and redefined Canadian/American relations (Jackson, 1994).
If one attempts to study the Canadian identity it may turn out to be a daunting task. This is because of the very vital fact that Canadians are indeed dissimilar to the Americans. Though, one might take these words as mockery but study of relevant literature in the relevant fields will help tremendously in not only recognizing but also understanding these facts. A famous Canadian political intellectual, George Grant wrote in one of his best works that Canadians should be suspicious and weary of Americanization. He had very serious concerns and sensitivities about Canadian identity that may resemble losing Canadian sovereignty to Americans (Potter, 2005).
Although, Grant might be seen as lobbying for British or traditional nationalism he requested the Liberal Party to control the growing business interests. Grant was writing in one of the oddest times in Canadian history which was shifting from old British nationalistic thinking and growing closer to the crown, while Pierre Elliot Trudeau was also there with the fame of multiculturalism who argues in favour of this new trademark for Canadian identity.
Looking at the things from Grant's concerns, one finds lots of facts and archival resources but they do not help you understand the modern thoughts on the subject of identity. At the same time it's also a fact that the country has a diverse population which Grant cannot speak to. Instead, the target remains a quite limited area in Ontario. Portraying a new or unique idea of national identity will definitely be a daunting task for him. Aside from the common flag, what do Quebecois and Manitobans enjoy in general? While addressing this issue, John Ibbitson in The Polite Revolution has claimed that Canada has become a region of 4 isolations (Ibbitson, 2005). Considering that, defining an inclusive identity in Canada, is indeed a very difficult task.
In Canada, many cultural and racial groups are residing in an atmosphere of peaceful co-existence. Summarizing the nature and working patterns and their literature review is beyond the scope of this project, still certain important points need to be noted down (Nater, 2011). In Canada many vibrant multicultural groups take part in the social celebrations and activities but you find Will Kymlicka arguing that this freedom for sub-cultural groups might cause harm to unified national identity. This might not work amicably with state system and may cause social unrest and identity crisis (Kymlicka, 1995; Nater, 2011).
The case goes more interesting with the different groups in the country calling for integrating sub-cultural groups and minorities to the masses and the national identity. On the other side, minority groups have strongly argued against this by declaring it against their belief and traditions. Like, convincing a Sikh official to avoid traditional turban for RCMP is not that easy, as he will claim to wear the turban to exercise religion freedom (Bissoondath, 1994).
Finally, this debate and multiculturalism has led Canada to a number of new symbols that represent its identity today. The old world characters for Canadian national identity like the Crown, The Stetson and Hudson Bay Company are almost gone for the world. Some people might argue that this is a challenging thing but one similar aspect still remains intact and that is hockey. Without any difference of opinion and doubts, hockey is tied with Canadian national identity in spite of doubts about origin of the sport. A general belief is that the game is a brainchild of Canadian children who went into it to resist the chilly winter weather in Canada (Nixon, 1976).
Additionally, the level of minor hockey league system in Canada proves out to be a great evidence to depict the significance to maintain the national tradition in Canadian social setup. The minor hockey league has not only impacted the social fabric but the family system, beliefs, attitude and career goals association with that is extremely strong (Nixon, 1976). Thus, hockey has become a focal point in national identity which is complementarily endorsed by the argument that hockey has become the foremost symbol of cultural nationality in Canada.
HNIC is one of the most popular periodical programs, which is broadcasted on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and it enjoys the gratitude of being the longest program in the country (Scherer and Whitson, 2009). HNIC has a great association with the history of the country and hence, in order to completely understand the importance of the program in the life of an ordinary Canadian, one will have to peep into the past and history of NHL and CBC. In those days, people used to take pride in the Montreal Canadians and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Thereafter, with the passage of time the television broadcast went more popular and the event grabbed unprecedented reputation. In this program, the Coach's Corner section is regarded as the most admired, appreciated and watched by the audience than the actual game (Scherer and Whitson, 2009).
Many people have described HNIC as the lawyer of Canadian cultural citizenship owing to the unprecedented popularity across the country. NHL hockey enjoys the status of a cultural custom that has worked as a bond to connect Canadians for many years. Particularly, it has been a pretty popular method to develop Canadian national unity after the war times (Scherer and Whitson, 2009). Additionally, Robidoux has jumped ahead by saying that hockey is the main distinction between Canada and Britain.
It has always been a prominent part of Canadian identity to differentiate them from American and British culture. In the beginning, Canada had all the conventional elements of a British colony. Like, Queen working as a head of the state, Union Jack as a state symbol and names of many cities etc. reflect the British impact on what we have known to be the popular Canadian identity (Nater, 2011). But it remains one of the undeniable facts that in Trudeau era, the Canadian society tried best to do away with colonial picture, it had in the past. This was quite unacceptable to many people like George Grant who, (in the years ahead of Trudeau) while looking at dying British patriotism in Canada argued in its favor. Grant, who is a recognized political philosopher in the country, wrote Lament for A Nation to highlight the risks to Canadian sovereignty. Grant opined that Canadian independence is being compromised ahead of petty financial and corporate interests. Furthermore, the book cries for the lost sovereignty of Canada. Certain political voices are not heard because of the widespread belief that societies always look ahead for a better tomorrow and time (Grant, 1965).
Canada was built on the basis of the hundred years old theory given by Sir John A. Macdonald, according to which nationalism is not enforced or managed from across the sea, but from the south. The society of Canada is different from that of United States as Canadian society is structured and steady (like French society), while the society of United States is declined towards liberalism (Grant, 1965). Moreover, Canada is nothing but another British colony, located in the North America.
According to Grant, the only way to save Canadian nationalism was to implement British nationalism in Canada. The Canadians had an opportunity to rise as a nation when the ties to the Crown were declining, but they were deficient in creating a real identity despite of having room for it. The distinctiveness of Canada was a great question and point of apprehension for Grant in the decade of 1960s. According to him, Canada was still a British colony, instead of being a nation itself. Despite of being a British colony, it was said that Canada was under a constitutional government of British Crown by number of politicians (Grant, 1965). In the decades of 1970s and 1980s, Canada was called…[continue]
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