For better or for worse, I am the spokesperson for my country. I am Sean Spicer in the body of a twenty-year-old college girl tasked with fielding every bizarre question that transpires when I mention that I’m from Canada.
“Whoa, isn’t it really cold there?” “Your president is so hot.” “Why don’t you have a French accent?” “You speak English really well!” “Do you guys have a queen?” “Is Canada still part of the United States?” “Is it true that your money smells like maple syrup?”
Wondering about the answers to these questions? Me too. So I decided to do a brief FAQAC:
Frequently Asked Questions About Canada (FAQAC)
Q: Wow, isn’t it really cold?
A: No, not really. I’m from Vancouver, which is one of the warmest cities in Canada. Living in Vancouver you can expect 364 days of rain a year and one day of either snow or sunshine, depending on how the climate change gods are feeling.
Q: Why don’t you have a French accent?
A: Quebec is the only province that is predominately French-speaking and it’s all the way on the opposite side of the country from where I live, in British Columbia.
Q: Is Justin Trudeau single?
A: Alas, no.
Q: Does Canada have a queen?
A: No, but the Queen of England is our symbolic head of state. The governor general of Canada, recommended by the prime minister and officially appointed by the British monarch, carries out ceremonial duties on behalf of the monarch and oversees Canadian ambassadors worldwide.
Q: Is Canada still part of the United States?
A: This isn’t a thing. This was never a thing.
At this point you know more about Canada than every single person who attended Trump’s inauguration combined. Now let’s touch on a more pressing issue: what it’s like to be Canadian, or, more nearly, what it’s like to be non-American.
Similar to the case of the Harvard-Princeton rivalry, we Canadians think about our superiority over Americans far more than Americans ever think about us. During first grade, one kid would always run around the playground asking, “Are you a smart Canadian or a dumb American?”
“A smart Canadian,” the other would reply.
“Okay, sing the alphabet song!”
The alphabet song only rhymes with “zee” and not “zed”, so the trick was to sing the entire song and remember to say “zed”—otherwise, you were a dumb American.
Though we matured slightly as we aged, we always had the intangible sense that Canada was just better. In high school, every Monday morning during assembly we mumbled “O Canada” under our breaths and stared awkwardly at the floor during the French verses that no one really knew. We were proud to be Canadian. We were proud to be proud, but not too proud like our southerly neighbors. We were proud that our history books taught not only Canadian history but also touched upon a variety of cultures around the world.
That is not to say that we were perfect; far from it. One of my friends in high school confessed to me that her family was Muslim and made me promise not to tell anyone. Though she was pale-skinned and wore no traditional Muslim clothing, she was worried about the stigma that came with her religion. Furthermore, the school I went to from kindergarten to Grade 12 was not particularly racially, socially or economically diverse. Roughly half of the students were white and the other half were a mix of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean with a few exceptions. In my senior year European history class, only two of twenty students were religious. Despite the way that Canada is often represented as a bastion of multiculturalism and equality in the media, I cannot say that growing up Canadian has made me a particularly worldly person. In fact, I doubt that most Canadians gave much thought to the merits of Canada’s reputation before the past few months.
We were Canadians reveling in our insignificance and basking in the afterglow of the spotlight shining on America—until November 8th, 2016, the fateful election day. For the second time since Justin Bieber’s 2010 release of “Baby”, a collective “I LOVE YOU JUSTIN!” scream could be heard reverberating around North America, but this time it was for another Canadian Justin: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Often lauded for his progressive practices and good looks, Justin Trudeau suddenly seemed like an angel compared to Donald Trump. While Trump made headlines for his “locker room” comments degrading women, Trudeau made headlines for appointing Canada’s first cabinet with an equal number of men and women.
Articles like “The World is Losing its Mind Over Justin Trudeau’s Bubble Butt” and “BuzzFeed: How Canadian Are You” became commonplace. For once, Canada felt relevant, if only because of its mildly-attractive prime minister and relative political stability. Several of my friends at Princeton have asked me if they should move to Canada, as if moving to Canada would somehow allow them to escape all of America’s Trump-era problems.
Moving to Canada for the sole purpose of escaping Trump would be a poor decision. Over the next four to eight years that Trump is president, many of his decisions will affect Canada, given its proximity to the United States. Unfortunately, you’ll probably have to just wait it out and take comfort in the numerous shirtless Justin Trudeau pictures floating around on the Internet.