Distinctly Canadian


Canada, federated country of North America, bounded on the north by the
Arctic Ocean; on the northeast by Baffin Bay and Davis Strait, which separate it
from Greenland; on the east by the Atlantic Ocean; on the south by the United
States; and on the west by the Pacific Ocean and Alaska. Canada is the world\'s
second largest country, surpassed in size only by Russia. Canada has a total
area of 9,970,610 sq. km (3,849,652 sq. mi), of which 755,180 sq. km (291,575 sq.
mi) is covered by bodies of fresh water such as rivers and lakes (Canadian
Encyclopaedia, 1988).
Canada contains great reserves of natural resources, notably timber,
petroleum, natural gas, metallic minerals, and fish. The name Canada is derived
from an Iroquoian term meaning "village" or "community."
In Canada we have many images, practices, and items that make us one of
the best, younger countries in the world. In such a short time for a country to
exist, we have many images that make us very culturally rich in everyway.
Probably the most important images, practices, and items come for our friend,
the American Indians (or Native Americans). They were a definite asset to
Canada\'s cultural growth.
The American Indians came into Canada in a series of migrations that
occurred during the last stages of the Pleistocene Ice Age, Mongoloid peoples
from Asia entered North America, probably crossing the Bering Strait. Gradually
they spread over the continent and into South America. By 1600, more than
250,000 of their aboriginal descendants inhabited what is now Canada. Developing
a Stone Age economy, they hunted, fished, and gathered food and, in warmer areas,
also farmed. The basic social unit was the band, which varied from a few
families to several hundred people. In areas of higher settlement density, bands
were organized into tribes and even larger units.
The largest linguistic group was the Algonquian, which included
migratory hunting tribes such as the Cree and Naskapi in the eastern subarctic
region and the Abenaki and Micmac in the eastern woodlands on the coast. By the
18th century, Algonquians had spread west, where Ottawa, Ojibwa, Blackfoot,
Plains Cree, and others roamed the prairies and plains in search of buffalo. The
Iroquoian speaking tribes the Huron and the Iroquois—lived in permanent farm
settlements and had a highly developed tribal organization in the St. Lawrence
Valley and around Lakes Ontario and Erie (Canadian Encyclopaedia, 1988).
Tribes of Salishan, Athabascan, and other linguistic groups occupied
fishing villages along the rivers of interior British Columbia. On the Pacific
coast, Salishan tribes, such as the Bellacoola, and related Wakashan-speaking
tribes—the Kwakiutl and Nootka—developed a rich culture, based on salmon fishing,
expressed in potlatch ceremonies and carved wood totem poles. In the western
subarctic, the Athabascan group—Carrier, Dogrib, and others led a primitive
hunting existence similar to that of the Algonquians. Small, isolated Inuit
bands developed a unique culture based on hunting seals and caribou, enabling
them to survive the harsh environment of the Arctic (Canadian Encyclopaedia,
1988).
As we can see the Indians gave us many items that give us our culture,
Native Indians can be said that they are basically our culture. Whatever they
have as images, items, or practices, are ours also.
We can tell from the Natives that they feel that the animal kingdom was
an important part of their lives. They show this from the things they hunt and
the items they make (totem poles, with many sacred animals carved into them).
Some very important Canadian animals are: bison (buffalo), caribou,
salmon, beaver, loon, and the moose. These animal images are distinctly
Canadian. Some of these animals live elsewhere, but when people think of theses
animals, they think Canada.
Bison, the largest terrestrial animal in North America, where it is
usually called buffalo. The bison is characterized by a hump over the front
shoulders; short, sharply pointed horns (in both sexes) curving outward and up
from the sides of the massive head; and slimmer hindquarters. A mature bull of
the North American bison is about 2 m (about 6.5 ft) high at the hump and 2.7 to
3.7 m (9 to 12 ft) long and weighs 850 to 1100 kg (1800 to 2400 lb); the female
is smaller. The head, neck, forelegs, and front parts of the body have a thick
coat of long, dark hair. The rear part of the body is covered with much shorter
hair. The adult bull usually has a black beard about 30 cm (about 12 in) long
(Canadian Encyclopaedia, 1988).
Until the 19th century, as many as 60 million bison lived on the Great
Plains from Mexico into Canada, and some