The Love Central - Canadian Etiquette 101: What African Visitors Need to Know
Canadian Etiquette 101: What African Visitors Need to Know

Canadian Etiquette 101: What African Visitors Need to Know

As a visitor from Africa, you can enjoy the beauty, diversity, and hospitality of Canada, but you should also be mindful of the etiquette.
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If you are planning to travel to Canada from Africa, you may be wondering about the cultural differences and expectations that you may encounter. In this article, we will provide you with some basic tips and advice on Canadian etiquette

Canada, a land of boundless beauty and diversity, welcomes you with open arms. As an African guest, you may encounter some unfamiliar or puzzling manners in this northern nation. 

But remember the popular saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” That is, follow the customs of the country and honor the host’s traditions to avoid any friction or clashes.

Here are some tips on Canadian etiquette that you should know before you travel:

The Love Central - Canadian Etiquette 101: What African Visitors Need to Know
A firm handshake a smile and eye contact are the standard ways to greet someone Image source Freepik

Greetings and Communication

Canadians are friendly and casual, but they also appreciate politeness and respect. A firm handshake, a smile, and eye contact are the standard ways to greet someone for the first time. 

You can also say “Hello”, “hi”, or “Nice to meet you”. Some Canadians may hug or kiss each other on the cheek, depending on the context and the relationship, but this is rare and you should let them make the first move.

Canadians usually call people by their first names, even in professional settings, unless they are very formal or senior. However, it is better to use titles and last names until they tell you to use first names. 

For example, you can say “Mr. Smith” or “Dr. Jones” until they say “Please, call me John” or “I’m Lisa”. You should also steer clear of terms of endearment, such as “honey”, “sweetie”, or “dear” unless you are very close to the person.

Canadians also use humor or sarcasm to make the conversation more fun or to get their point across but don’t take it personally or literally. Canadians have a good sense of humor, but they also respect the boundaries of others and steer clear of jokes that are offensive or insensitive.

Personal Space and Body Language

Respecting personal space and privacy is important for Canadians. They prefer to talk to someone from a distance of at least an arm’s length, and they avoid touching or getting too close to anyone who is not a close friend or family member. Staring, touching their hair, face, or clothing, or any other invasion of their comfort zone can make them feel uneasy.

Canadians also communicate with body language, but they are not very demonstrative or lively. They use facial expressions such as nodding, smiling, or raising their eyebrows to express interest, agreement, or surprise. They show boredom, disagreement, or displeasure by crossing their arms, frowning, or looking away.

Canadians sometimes gesture with their hands to make a point or give directions, but they never use rude gestures like sticking out their tongue, showing their middle finger, or making a fist.

Dining and Drinking

Eating and drinking with others is a common way for Canadians to socialize, whether at home or outside. If you get invited to someone’s home, it is polite to bring a small gift, such as wine, chocolates, or flowers, to thank them. 

You should also be punctual or let them know if you are running late, and respect their customs, such as removing your shoes at the door.

At the table, you should follow some basic etiquette rules. Wait until everyone is seated and the host starts eating before you do. Use the right utensils and keep your elbows off the table. 

The Love Central - Canadian Etiquette 101: What African Visitors Need to Know
If you get invited to someones home it is polite to bring a small gift Image source Freepik

Chew with your mouth closed, don’t talk with food in your mouth, and put your napkin on your lap. Try to finish your food, or at least most of it, to show your appreciation. Compliment the host or the chef on the food and thank them for the meal.

When it comes to drinking, you should know the legal drinking age, which varies from 18 to 19 across the provinces. You should also drink moderately and not get drunk, as Canadians dislike unruly behavior. 

If you are in a group, you should offer to buy a round of drinks for your friends and tip the server or bartender 15 to 20 percent of the bill.

Conclusion: Canadian Etiquette 101

Canada is a wonderful and welcoming country, with a lot to offer and discover. As a visitor from Africa, you can enjoy the beauty, diversity, and hospitality of Canada, but you should also be mindful of the etiquette and the culture that shape the Canadian identity and values. 

By following these tips, you can avoid any misunderstandings or faux pas, and make the most of your Canadian experience.

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