Canadian national identity: RIM vs Tim Hortons

Recently, the ambassador of Canada was asked to say a few words about Canada and Canadian identity. Rather than talk about our unique natural landscapes, endearing cultural norms or even how we pronounce words funny, the ambassador chose to talk about Tim Hortons.

For the ambassador, Canadian identity was more about a relatively small coffee chain than it was about our historical accomplishments. While Tim Hortons does make an awesome cup of Joe, and I do appreciate their low prices, it’s not a very global company.

Canadians love to identify themselves as being a diverse nation with an interest in all things global. We celebrate Toronto’s diversity and the word “diversity” comes up in Canadian culture as much as the word “freedom” comes up in American.

The company that embodies this spirit isn’t Tim Hortons, but rather RIM. RIM is a Canadian company building a product that is truly global. The BlackBerry is helping economies be more efficient, as well as helping us stay in touch, thus strengthening the bonds of society. Canadian identity should be linked to something that empowers people, rather than make them fat.

Andrew Cohen, a professor of journalism and international affairs at Carleton University, wrote a good article on this subject that appeared in the Ottawa Citizen (no link). He also backs RIM as Canada’s best foreign policy tool.

6 Responses to “Canadian national identity: RIM vs Tim Hortons”

  1. 1 BlackBerryCool (BlackBerry Cool)

    Canadian national identity: RIM vs Tim Hortons

  2. 2 Kim

    Ummm… Ambassador of Canada to where? That detail is kind of important. As is the audience for the Ambassador’s speech. Perhaps the Ambassador was making a link between Tim Hortons and Canadian communities. In many small towns, social life revolves around the local Timmy’s. It’s where people meet, discuss the latest news and generally gather together. I don’t dispute the fact that RIM is an important Canadian company that makes a product which has transcended our national borders. However, I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss Tim Hortons as readily as you do. It’s also poor journalism to take someone’s words out of context and not provide a link or reference to the original source.

  3. 3 SaneinOne (Dave)

    RT @BlackBerryCool: Canadian national identity: RIM vs Tim Hortons

  4. 4 Kyle

    @Kim - I would have given a link but it appeared in print. I don’t think they published it for the web. If you have a paid account with the Citizen, I’m sure you have access. Or, if you know how to link to print articles, I’m happy to do so. :)

  5. 5 DP

    Not sure I even agree with linking the Canadian Identity to corporations and/or products be it coffee, Blackberries, or hockey sticks. In reality Canadians (I being one) have always struggled with this question: what does it mean to be a canadian? Is it simply a statement of the cultural diversity which we have? is it a reflection of the corporate success we have? Is it perhaps a reflection of our sports (hockey, lacrosse, etc…)? I don’t believe it is any of these things. We have to look deeper within the soul of canadians as a whole … what do we believe in, stand for, etc. When we do we will discover a different type of diversity.

    Culture is only one form of identity; it is the one we see most because it is the most visible. The real canadian identity does not lie right before our very eyes. It is a part of all that we do as a nation. Perhaps it is respect, freedom, tolerance, etc which really form a part of who we are. That being said, I agree that too many times our past successes have been all too conveniently forgotten. I am reminded of this every time we commemorate D-Day, Dieppe, and Rememberance Day (to name a few).

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