Americans should stop romanticizing Canada

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Many Americans on the left joke about how much they would want to live in Canada. Free healthcare, a bigger safety net, an attractive president. What could be better?

However, despite its socialized healthcare, Canada has a lot of big issues that even make the U.S. look good at times. Canada’s Indigenous rights and religious freedom issues need to be talked about before romanticizing Canada. 

Just like the United States, Canada was colonized and Indigenous people there still have to fight for many rights. Many Americans criticize how some U.S. curriculums for public school downplay slavery and colonization. The same goes for Canada.

A lot of curriculums in Canada don’t acknowledge how the Indigenous peoples were colonized by Europeans. This results in the general public not having much understanding of the oppression that Indigenous people face in Canada, and have faced for a very long time. 

Indigenous communities struggle with poverty, food insecurity, mental and physical health and access to healthcare.

Even with universal healthcare, marginalized communities still get the short end of the stick. Indigenous people in Canada have similar situations to Indigenous people in the U.S., so the argument that Canada is so much better, isn’t conclusive.

Canadian state governments have often put the profits of the oil industry over Indigenous communities who don’t want a pipeline going through their land. Indigenous people from the Wet’suwet’en First Nation protested against a natural gas pipeline going through their territory.

Police showed up and used excessive force showing that police brutality is not just an American problem.

Pipelines hurt Indigenous communities in a lot of ways, damaging the natural ecosystem, hurting natural resources and causing the death and disappearances of Indigenous women.

When a pipeline is built, man camps – temporary housing for male pipeline workers – are set up, causing a lot of violence for the Indigenous community.

Many of the men fetishize Indigenous women resulting in the kidnap, rape and murder of many Indigenous women. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police found that in 30 years, over 1,000 Indigenous women in Canada were murdered. 

Canada also has a lot of Islamophobia problems. Québec has a ban on religious symbols for public workers. This includes head coverings and face coverings, mostly affecting Muslim women. This is outright discrimination.

A teacher is not allowed to wear a hijab for fear that it would mean the state is influencing children to become Muslim. This makes no sense and is downright Islamophobia.

There is a lot of racism in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has worn blackface many times before. While he has apologized for it, it gives the impression that Canada is not some progressive haven where America’s problems don’t exist.

Canada has just as much racism as America. In fact, the amount of white supremacist groups in Canada is growing, as well as hate crimes. Hate crimes have increased 50 percent in the last two years in Canada. The victims are usually Muslims, Jews and Indigenous people.

Canada is not some haven of social progressivism and it’s easy to understand why. It was founded by white colonizers and has a racist past just like the U.S. does.

While Canada did classify the Proud Boys as a hate group – which is a lot more than the U.S. has done to combat white supremacy – it still has a lot of problems. 

As said, Trudeau has done blackface. He has also had multiple scandals, including taking bribes from lobbyists, which is a really big deal. However, Americans only discuss how he marched with climate change activists.

They hold Canada to a different standard than the U.S. simply because it has universal healthcare. The bar for politicians in the U.S. is low, it’s not surprising that Americans continue to love Trudeau just because he’s not as bad as some of our politicians here.

That said, he’s still a politician, making him a part of a corrupt system and we can see that he’s been an active player in that corruption.

It’s fine to want universal healthcare. It’s even fine to want to someday live in Canada. However, it shouldn’t be romanticized.

Like America, it has a lot of problems and it’s insensitive to romanticize it without seeing the whole picture.

Think again before praising Canada for being a perfect country, especially in the presence of people who may still face a lot of oppression there.

Anna Baker is an English junior who can be reached at [email protected]

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