Having lived in Canada for my entire life, I’ve always raised an eyebrow at the “Canadians are so polite” stereotype. I mean, sure, we’re nice—one time the cashier at Tim Hortons “accidentally” made my mom a medium tea and charged her for a small, and another time I ran into a moose on my way home from school and it complimented my snow shoes (kidding). Seriously, though, Canadians are nice. But from my experiences, we’re not nicer than people in other parts of the world; people just think we are.
Reports of our kindness have been greatly exaggerated. Canadians being polite is an easy trope for Canadian news stories to fall into, because it’s such a prevalent stereotype. Such was the case with the recent ‘Tell America It’s Great’ campaign, an attempt by a Canadian marketing company to infuse some much-needed positivity into the lives of Americans. It is easy for people to assume that Canadians did this to fulfill the stereotype of being Canadian and oh, so polite. In fact, this is exactly what the author of a Vice Canada article did.
After explaining that Americans don’t care about what Canadians think—news to me, and, I would think, to the Americans who were moved to tears by the video—the author proceeds to declare that the “campaign is a thinly disguised excuse for Canadians to pat themselves on the back about how nice they are.” Not to be rude, (I am Canadian, after all) but, um, pardon?
This isn’t about being Canadian; it’s about being human. It’s about the 46 per cent of Americans who, according to an ABC News poll, have found this election to be a serious source of stress. It’s about bringing a positive message to social media, which has been plagued by toxicity during this election cycle. It’s about having the opportunity to do something small to bring a smile to people’s faces.
The problem with brushing Canadians’ kindness off as, well, a side effect of our nationality is that it puts a shadow over the kindness. Obviously, one video isn’t going to instantly cure all Americans of the stress that they are under. But if it helps at least one person, which it clearly has, then so what? Why would you ever discourage someone from saying something positive?!
The moral of the story is this: be kind to people, and encourage kindness when you see it. After the horrible, hurtful things that have been said in this election cycle, we absolutely need more empathy and compassion in this world—no matter what our nationality is.