One of the best things about life in Canada is that the country is a culturally diverse melting pot of foreign nationals from across the globe. No matter where you are immigrating from you can be sure to be welcomed openly into your new community.
But that’s not to say you won’t have to learn to adapt a little. Diverse as Canada is, there are still a few cultural norms that may come as a surprise when adjusting to life in your new home. In this blog, we’ll share a few helpful tips on what to expect upon arriving in Canada.
Canadians are well known for their extreme politeness. Upon arriving in Canada, be prepared to use phrases like “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” and “sorry” often and hear them frequently in return.
Keep in mind, however, that while these idioms may appear like openings for friendly conversation, they are in fact, simply a cultural norm in Canada and not necessarily an invention to engage in conversation.
For the most part, Canadian have a well-earned reputation for being open and friendly. They also value personal space and privacy quite considerably and there is a level for formality that may feel a little different than what you may be used to.
Conversations between work colleagues and acquaintances tend to focus on things like the weather, what you did on the weekend, hobbies, and special plans. Outside of very close relationships, things like politics, religion, income, and finances are rarely discussed. The key is to follow social cues and avoid oversharing.
Personal space is also important. Even close friends will call before dropping by unexpectedly. Actions like speaking very loudly in public, cutting in line, or “close-talking” are also discouraged and considered to be very rude.
Love it or hate it, sports – and hockey in particular – are a big part of life in Canada. It’s not uncommon for entire blocks of a city to be overrun in celebration after a big win or for conversations to start with comments about the last big game.
That’s not to say you need to lace up some skate or become a diehard Vancouver Canucks fan, but some knowledge and interest in the sport can be a fun way to engage socially in Canadian culture.
By some estimates, as much as 80% of the labour market in Canada stems from the so-called “hidden” job market. This simply refers to the fact that not all job openings are advertised or actively recruiting, but there are positions available.
It is considered rude to outright ask about openings or solicit referrals. However, building a network through active engagement of new contacts and maintenance of existing ones can help you gain a competitive edge in the Canadian job market.