By: Linsley Oaks, LuxEco Living Editorial Assistant
I lived in Canada as an American citizen for five years. I spent four years outside of Montreal attending a small University under a work visa, and one year in Vancouver under a work visa. For a long time, I wanted to immigrate to Canada, but without a specialized skill or profession (or about $30,000), it was simply not in the cards.
I wanted to immigrate for a lot of reasons, but mainly because of how it felt to be in Canada: and not just for the weekend shopping while the dollar was strong and the taxes waived at the boarder. It felt safer, cleaner, more intelligent- in a word, better. People didn’t seem to have the same stresses as they do in the states- 20 year olds don’t have animated discussions about how to get health care or afford medical care, talks of shootings or police brutality are noticeably less frequent, women seem to be less concerned with where they go at night, and eco-friendly practices are more widely followed. My experiences behind Canadian boarders made it seem more evolved.
But why? Why did Canada make this lasting impression on me? Most of my education and own personal evolution has lead me to have complete faith in the truism that ‘people are people’, no matter what nationality, skin tone, genetic make up, background, or any other distinction that makes an individual stand apart from others. We are all the same in the human experience. Canadians and Americans are arguably very similar in culture, so why did the end result feel so different?
And then it dawned on me: size really DOES matter! Canada’s population size is roughly one tenth the size of the United State’s (30 million vs 300 million according to 2009 Census Data). Having a smaller and more manageable population is part of the reason Canada can be more respectful to natural resources, take better care of its population with health care and social services, and appear to be less violent and generally more peaceable.
Now, I point this out not to chalk up Canada’s global ‘boy scout’ status to merely having fewer numbers. Far from it. There is a lot at work here besides population size. Nor am I trying to make an overly simplistic or negative view of Canada: I still consider myself Canada’s number one fan- it is an amazing nation full of inspiring people. And I am certainly not advocating any form of ‘population control‘. However, I think we here in the States can make valuable observations in comparing our population size and resulting differences to our neighbors to the north. It is not about how small Canada’s population is, it is about how large ours is!
Think about it: what are people but a resource, just like acres of land or bodies of water? More than that, people are the ultimate resource, the resource that requires all other resources to function. With 300,000,000 consumers of resources and counting, we in America need to consider how our every day consumptions are exponentially amplified by our sheer numbers. Our social, economical, and ecological practices need to take size into consideration. What are reasonable solutions to problems we face as a society, given our size? What works for a population like Canada’s will not necessarily work for our own. Size really does matter, and it is high time we realize not only that bigger is not necessarily better, but that it requires more diligence and perseverance.