Canadian cultural values and beliefs

Read Original Version (CLB5+) You are reading the Simple Version (CLB3-4)

Skip to:

Canadians are polite, tactful, and peace-loving. They value tolerance, humility and non-violence. The following are 10 cultural norms you can observe in Canadian society. These will help you understand Canadians and help you adjust culturally.

  1. Egalitarianism

    All men are equal. Everyone deserves equal rights and opportunities regardless of gender, age, race or beliefs. You work with your boss in the workplace, not for your boss. Rank is not something people show off.

  2. Informality

    Canadians are casual in dress and language. There are no uniforms or dress codes in most workplaces. People call each other by first name. Even bosses are called by their first names. You can use Mr./Mrs./Ms. (or a professional title like Dr.) and their last name when you meet a person for the first time. They may tell you to use their first name right away. Others will ask you to use their first name when they know you better.

  3. Order and space

    Order and personal privacy are important to Canadians. Don’t ask about salary, family life, weight, religion and other personal topics. People have rights over their own property. Ask before using anything that is not yours. Don’t cut in line, speak out of turn, shout and talk loudly. This is part of keeping order and respecting other people’s space.

  4. Individualistic yet community-oriented

    Canadians value independence but they contribute to the community. They believe that we must take care of each other. They volunteer, donate and help the community.

  5. Punctuality

    Punctuality is equal to respect. Arriving on time means you value other people. Being on time means arriving 10-15 minutes earlier.

  6. Respect

    Canadians show this by:

    • being polite, punctual, tolerant and orderly.
    • not criticizing another person’s looks, beliefs, age, gender and status in life.
    • being diplomatic. They give negative feedback in an indirect manner.
    • being tactful when disagreeing.
    • being clear and direct when you talk in the workplace.
    • speaking up for themselves.
  7. Multiculturalism and diversity

    Canada became a strong nation by welcoming immigrants. It is the first country in the world to have a policy of multiculturalism in 1971. This allowed immigrants to maintain their cultural identity. It also promoted cultural understanding and harmony.

  8. Political correctness

    Avoid words and actions that disrespect groups of people. This is important in Canada. It is the key to living harmoniously with everyone.

  9. Regionalism

    Canadians are proud to belong to their respective province or territory.

    • The Atlantic provinces (the Maritimes and Newfoundland and Labrador) are known for being reserved and old-fashioned;
    • Ontario is business-like and conservative;
    • People in Western Canada (Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan) are open and friendly;
    • British Columbia is edgy and progressive;
    • Quebec is distinct and independent; and
    • North (Yukon, the Northern Territories and Nunavut) has a strong pioneer spirit.
  10. Love for the environment

    Canadians are proud of their rich resources. They respect the environment and appreciate nature. They love camping. They take care of parks and open spaces. They are environment-friendly.

Sources: Cultural Information-Canada; Commisceo Global, Canadian Cultures, University of Winnipeg; and Regionalism, The Canadian Encyclopedia. Accessed and updated November 6, 2018.

Back to top

Community Resources

Read 10 pointers to help you fit in at work and Canadian workplace culture do’s and don’ts.

Back to top

We'd love to hear from you!

Please login to tell us what you think.

Related Learning Activities

Voting in Municipal Elections in Manitoba

Winnipeg City Hall, Manitoba Canada

Voting in any election may seem a little confusing at times. Municipal elections are no exception. Attend this workshop to… Read more »

Voting in Provincial Elections in Manitoba

Golden Boy on top of Manitoba Legislature

Voting in Federal Elections in Canada

red maple leaf with white check mark in the middle

Voting in Canada. Does the thought of this seem overwhelming or complicated? Join this workshop to learn how uncomplicated it… Read more »

Rights and responsibilities of Canadian residents and citizens

Image of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Attend this workshop to learn everything you need to know as a resident or citizen of Canada!

Back to top

CC BY-NC-SAText of this page is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, unless otherwise marked. Please attribute to English Online Inc. and link back to this page where possible. For images and videos, check the source for licensing information.