Canadian Culture Shock

“Lizz I must ask, you are an intelligent and educated young woman, what is with your obsession with male dominated organized sports?” This was the question posed to me by one of my college professors. To be completely honest this exchange happened after she caught me watching the Canucks game on my laptop while taking notes. Oops. At the time I was caught off guard and unsure how to answer the question. It bothered me for some time before I had an answer. Hockey is Canada’s culture.

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Walking on the frozen Lake Louise in nothing but a hockey jersey.

I am a feminist. I have written essays on the lack of female athletes in the mainstream media. Presidential debates have raged with less fury than when I have felt the need to defend figure skating as a sport. Or when I tried to get people to agree with me that dance should be considered a sport. None of that has anything to do with my enjoyment of hockey.

According to popular culture the staples of Canada are beavers, maple leafs, mounties, igloos, moose, and hockey. Being Canadian I can tell you that I have only seen one beaver in my life and that was a lonely guy living in a ditch off the river. Likewise the only moose I have seen was the one my aunt had to avoid while driving down the highway. Mounties only wear those beautiful red outfits ceremonially (at least as far as I know?). I have never been far enough north to see an igloo.

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This towel has gone with me around the world and back again.

French is our second language but living in Vancouver I hear far more Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, Japanese, and others. That covers another stereotype: multiculturalism. We are a nation that encourages and welcomes immigration and the world knows it. What isn’t generally covered is the inherent racism that can seep in beneath the orb of multiculturalism.

None of this matters when you are watching a hockey game. It doesn’t matter whether you are a man or woman, what language you speak, where you or your parents came from or what city you live in, the majority of Canadians love hockey. It brings us together as a nation during every Winter Olympics. When the Stanley Cup Playoffs are approaching in the spring we all start keeping an eye on any of the Canadian teams that might make it. If your home team doesn’t make it then you cheer for whatever Canadian teams do. “Maybe the Cup will come home this year,” is a statement I have heard more times than I can count.

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One of the best birthday presents a Vancouver girl could ask for: a signed Alex Burrows jersey

The Canucks got to the final round, game seven, while I was out of the country. My chef knew how important it was to me and he gave me the morning off to watch the slaughter that that game was. When I returned to the kitchen ready to work, one of the servers, a guy from Montreal, took one look at my red puffy eyes and said, “I knew they’d blow it.”

Home or away, the Canucks or my dad’s beer league team, NHL or international, hockey is part of the glue that holds Canadian’s together. Mix it with a healthy dose of Tim Horton’s coffee and maple syrup and you have the country I am proud to call home. Go Canucks Go!

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My Scottish man’s initiation into the world of live hockey. Unfortunately they lost that night… It is okay though, he is used to that watching the Scottish rugby team his whole life.

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