Canada is No Joke

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I moved to the Bay Area almost two years ago from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. You may not have noticed this, but American television tells jokes at Canada's expense a lot.

I've always been confused by this. How do Americans view Canadians? What's the joke? Is the joke that we're hockey playing lumberjacks who live in igloos and feed maple syrup to our pet beavers? Perhaps that's one trope; however, I believe the stereotype is more nuanced than that.

After living here for some time and giving it some thought, I've come up with the following hypothesis: America sees itself as Canada's big brother. I'm not talking about the Orwellian Big Brother, but an older sibling.

If the Earth is a high school, America is a senior. He's the quarterback of the football team. He's tall, muscular and fun-loving. When he walks down the hall, the sea of students parts to make a path for him. He's a central figure in all of the student gossip. Sure, he has a hot temper, but overall he thinks he's a pretty good guy.

Canada, America's little bro, is a freshman. He's kind of goofy and he's one of the shortest kids in his class. America ruffles Canada's hair and calls him a wimp. He ignores his little brother at school, playing ball with China, flirting with Israel and picking fights with Iraq. Sure, he loves his little brother, but he doesn't think about him very much.


I had a conversation with an American co-worker about this yesterday. I told her that I didn't think Americans knew what Canadians thought of them. "That's right. We don't know because we don't care," she laughed, perhaps a bit abashed.

Well, Americans, if you don't ask I won't tell you. I'll just give you one hint: in our figurative scenario, we're not your little brother.

With a Perspective, I'm Kayla Andrews.

Kayla Andrews is a graphic designer working in Oakland.