Cultural Differences in Canada

Categories: Canada

In the essay “Marginalization”, author Neil Bissoondath discusses cultural differences in Canada. Bissoondath argues that the use of hyphens segregates people in a harmful way. His main purpose in the essay is to explain to the reader how the use of hyphens aids marginalization in Canada, and how it affects individuals as well as society.

Bissoondath starts off his essay with a personal anecdote of how a simple “what nationality are you?” conversation goes. He explains his frustration of how there will never be a simple answer to a seemingly simple question.

He talks about how people initially focus on the weather of Canada, and how they make it seem impossible that anyone would willingly want to leave a beautiful and warm climate in exchange for a much more cold and harsh Canadian one. A person can explain the economic and political hardships that exist in the country they fled from in order to immigrate to Canada only to be met with an inherently ignorant response; “yes, but we have that in Canada too”.

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Continuing on, Bissoondath introduces his main argument of how incorporating hyphens to describe our nationality only divides us further. People are inherently intrigued and attracted to exoticism. He explores how the issue of uncertainty in who we are as people makes us constantly search for any distinctions we can find, and this explains humans’ attraction to exoticism. Unfortunately, it is this very attractive to exoticism that leads Canadians to obsessively distinguish one another’s ethnicities with the use of hyphens.

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He suggests that hyphens seem to be primarily used to separate an immigrant from being referred to simply as Canadian. Hyphens can be used to distance, or even exclude, a person from Canadian culture when it is not convenient for them to be one.

To build on to the issue of alienation through the use of hyphens, Bissoodath talks about the use of the word homeland. It is rarely used in the literal sense. Most people will use the word homeland in connection to ancestry roots, rather than to mean where a person was literally born and raised. To further express his concerns of marginalization, Bissoondath writes about how people are quick to alienate each other “…frequently in times of economic hardship”. To conclude his essay, Bissoondath suggests that to discontinue the use of hyphens when describing our nationality may not solve the problem of marginalization, but that it might subdue bitterness towards each other during times of economic distress.

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Cultural Differences in Canada. (2020, Sep 03). Retrieved from

Cultural Differences in Canada

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