Culture of a Mutt

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How does a third generation German-Canadian celebrate culture? What sort of culture does a non-Francophone, non-Catholic umpteen generation French-Canadian have? How does a Canadian with Dutch and English new-world lines dating back centuries recognise his culture? How does a Canadian with Cree ancestry that has been hidden for decades find culture? How does a Canadian with a Scottish heritage diluted by generations of French ancestry give allegiance to the Highlands? What of the same Canadian who has a diluted Spanish ancestry; how does he nod to the Basque? Does a third generation Czech-Canadian have a culture?

What if one Canadian was all of that? What sort of culture does a Cree-Czech-Dutch-English-French-German-Spanish-Canadian have? And how does he find it?

How do you instill the importance of tradition and culture to your children when you have no inkling regarding what is your own culture?

24 thoughts on “Culture of a Mutt

  1. My advice to the Mutt?
    Stop looking backward and start looking forward.
    Let the world be your culture.

  2. Surely there is a Canadian culture. I don’t see why one would have to rely on the divided national identities of one’s ancestors for one’s sense of identity. My ancestors come mostly from England and Denmark, but I don’t strive to be Danish or English. I celebrate American culture.

  3. “The Irish Culture is the best”

    I find this an interesting statement coming from a tea-totaller.

    Which aspects interest you?

  4. I lived in Dublin for nearly a year and fell absolutely in love with Ireland and the people. I love their friendliness, I love their storytelling, I love their history, their tenacity, their bravery, their humour, their accent, their hardworking natures. Everything and more.

    It’s interesting that so many north Americans focus on alcohol when it comes to the Irish. That is certainly not what Ireland, nor what the Irish history or the people are about. It’s a wonderful culture and I am honoured to say I have a smidgeon of Irish in me. I wish it were more, but thank goodness I have a lot of Celtic in me. That’s probably why I love Ireland and the Irish so much.

    They have a rich and valuable heritage and culture.

  5. “Surely there is a Canadian culture. I don’t see why one would have to rely on the divided national identities of one’s ancestors for one’s sense of identity. My ancestors come mostly from England and Denmark, but I don’t strive to be Danish or English. I celebrate American culture.”

    There must be a Canadian culture, but it is extremely hard to define, at least for Canadians. Many people fall into the trap of defining it by what we are not.

    One of the major differences between the USA and Canada is that the US is described as a cultural “melting-pot” and Canada is described as a cultural “mosaic”. That is to say that although Canada and the USA are made up of immigrants from the same countries, people who move to the US more readily adopt american culture while in Canada, immigrants seem to hold to their old traditions more.

    I had a sociology professor who met some Canadians from Quebec in California. They had moved there and started their family. The kids were in their early teens.

    The prof asked the parents what nationality their kids considered themselves to be. The response was, American. The prof asked what it would be if they had moved to another Canadian province instead of going to California. Their response, French.

    Canada has had an identity crisis for years and years. That being said, there comes a point when you really should make a decision. I’ve heard that more and more people are identifying themselves as non-hyphenated Canadians on the Canadian census every year.

    As for myself, my family has been in Canada for over 100 years. I am Canadian. Of course I have ancestors who were a different nationality but it’s been a long time.

  6. I think there was a beer commercial that defined the Canadian culture quite well . . .

    . . . that Canadian culture is all about what Canadians are not?

  7. Canada has a rich cultural heritage which may be more ingrained in you, than you realize. I have found, one of the best ways to appreciate ones own culture is to travel and discover other cultures around the world.

    It appears you are questioning both how to identify with your own specific cultural ancestry as well looking at how you can engage in cultural traditions.

    I personally feel that as a multicultural person living in a multicultural society, in order to identify with your own heritage you should learn as much about the history and traditions of your ancestors as you can. Then in order to celebrate your culture pick and choose between the customs and traditions that you like best. Don’t feel that celebrating any aspect of one culture diminishes your ability or “right” to celebrate any other.

    I was just thinking about my own French heritage last night, and I’m thinking that if they hold a Cabane à sucre here in Lethbridge again this year, I’m going to be excited to go. But even if you didn’t have French ancestors, I see no reason why you shouldn’t participate in celebrating such fun activities.

  8. Your comment is well-timed, Jeff. I am doing that very thing now. I am listing as much as I can from the backgrounds that interest me (the Spanish is really far back, so I doubt I will include that for example), compare them and and adopt the common ones and a smattering of unique ones from each.

  9. Interesting topic!

    As a Canadian raised in the west, but having lived in Quebec and Ontario for a few years, with strong American roots (and all the diluted european stuff, too) living in California…. I think the solution is to define your own personal/family culture. Personally, I define myself more by my religious beliefs than a nationality.

    I also claim a culture involving large families, frequent family reunions, lots of email, camping, and traveling the country(countries)by sleeping on relatives floors.

    That’s who I am.

  10. The way I live my heritage is I am French.. period…. I am a French Canadian.. period… .anything else in my past heritage is so far back it doesn’t even count. My parents are French, all 4 of my grandparents were born and raised in Quebec and all of their parents were born and raised in Quebec. If by some chance someone diluted the gene pool as you say, it doesn’t count in my eyes. The only other heritage I would accept is the Cree if I could prove it but only because that is close enough to me to count.

    With you it is different as your natural dad was 1/2 German and 1/2 Dutch. Then the French comes through from me and one of your natural grandmother’s line. If I was you I would decide which one means the most to me and then live that one out. There is nothing that says you can’t appreciate the culture of the others but you need to pick the most dominate one. Which of course is the French :-D

    There is a commercial on TV right now I think it’s from Scotia Bank where a young couple adopted an Asian baby and they say that they always told themselves they would take her back one day to show her where she was from. The point is they are raising her as a Canadian with their culture but would, as a sidestep, teach her as well about her Asian roots.

    You will have to decide which roots you will follow.. which ones mean the most to you… decide what means the most to you personally, what do you want your children to grow up knowing about you, what fits the most comfortably inside of you.

    Think of it like a garden maze. There is one true path that you can follow to get you from point a to point b. There are also lots of other lines/paths that you can follow but you will be spinning your heels going all over the place trying to find your way. But if you have a plan and follow that plan you will get the end result that you are looking for.

    Follow your instinct Kim. And if all that fails then follow the French because I said so :-D

  11. For the record, while Joe was half German, he wasn’t half Dutch. His mum was half Czech (making him 1/4 Czech) from her mother, and she was part French, part English and part Dutch from her father. Grandpa Abel was even born in Québec (or at least near it depending who you ask).

    Also for the record, your Scottish is closer to you than your Cree is. :)

    If I picked one, it would likely be Scottish, but I can’t pick one.

  12. Mum

    You will be pleased to know that the children are now allowed to believe in Santa Claus. This is one of the traditions we are going to adopt, from the Netherlands (yes we are picking and choosing from our different backgrounds). But it won’t interfere with celebration of the Saviour’s birth on Dec 25 (yes, before anyone jumps in, I know He wasn’t born then, I said CELEBRATION of His birth). We will do it Dec 5 (evening of, eve of Dec 6).

    The children are thrilled too, lol.

  13. re: 13


    We want so much to be Americans (as in citizens of the U.S.). We want their movies, their food, their fashion, their wealth, their quality of life, etc…

    We want it so bad that we really cannot define who we are because we have this “Me too” attitude.

    So, in order to try to define who we are, we try to pick out the things we are not. Basically saying, “We are exactly like them, except for …”

    I think the only parts of canadian culture that have a truly unique culture identity are the native canadians and the french canadians. The rest of us are american wannabes.

  14. Jeff

    You will have to ask Kim.

    Actually, it isn’t that they will “believe” in Santa Claus, but we will have a Santa Claus celebration that will not conflict with our celebration of the birth of Christ.

    Or rather I should clarify, Regan believes in Santa no matter what he is told.

  15. Well, it’s about time. I am his Nana and I still believe in Santa no matter what you tell me, so how can you expect that gene pool to stop that because Kim said so? LOL That’s like saying the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny don’t exist!

  16. Lol

    Yes, well this past Christmas — I can’t recall the exact conversation — Regan was asking something about Santa. After, Kim had said something to the effect of “He isn’t real”. Regan said, “Yes, but where does the real Santa live?” So it’s just not going to work. You can tell him until you are blue in the face, but there is still a Santa Claus to him, no matter what! lol

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