Canadians are often curious about how others see them. We, at The Funke Group, are no exception to that informal rule. Interestingly, to commemorate Canada Day in 2015 – and with the help of the International Council for Canadian Studies – CBC News reached out to the 7,000 or so academics outside Canada who teach courses about Canada. They call themselves Canadianists, and what follows is a somewhat selective summary of their findings.
Irene Salverda, president of the Associations for Canada Studies in the Netherlands works at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. She said: ‘Many of my non-Canadianist friends refer to Canada as “the European version of America.” Canada resembles Europe the way it wishes it had stayed: full of natural beauty. The Dutch are attracted to the down-to-earth Canadian spirit. In Amsterdam, many locals will play dumb if an American asks for the way. But state you’re Canadian, and doors will open instantly.’
Lucia Otrisalova teaches American literature and Canadian studies and literature at Comenius University in Bratislava. She observed: ‘Canada is viewed as “a better United States,” as a country which enjoys a level of prosperity similar to its neighbor to the south, but doesn’t interfere in matters that don’t concern it. With anti-American sentiments rising throughout Slovakia, and the U.S. being blamed for almost everything that goes wrong in the world — for example, the current refugee crisis — Canada’s perceived lack of agency seems to be a virtue.’
Political scientist Earl Fry is the Endowed Professor of Canadian Studies at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He stated: ‘Periodic surveys continue to show that Americans like Canadians more than anyone else in the world. Americans can learn so much from Canada, especially in terms of public schools, health care, federalism, livable cities, relatively low violent crime, and other important areas.’
Wolfgang Klooß directs the Centre for Canadian Studies at Trier University. His view is:
‘Canada as a model for a multi-faceted immigrant society with many different voices and multiple forms of cultural expression — including those of her native peoples — is still an important subject in the classrooms of many German universities.’
Wang Bing teaches at the Liaoning Normal University in Dalian. He is a past president of the Association for Canadian Studies of China. Here’s what he says about us: ‘Canada definitely conjures up a very positive image in our Chinese mind. We usually find Canada wherever in the world justice should be done, abuses of human rights criticized, refugees assisted, or wrongs redressed.’
The insights recorded above offer, we think, some important clues about why Canadians as a people enjoy such unparalleled respect around the world. Our belief is that if any client of The Funke Group traveled to any one of the countries listed, you would be likely to receive an exceptionally warm welcome.