Welcome Holly!

The Canadian Studies Center would like to introduce you to Holly Simon, a student employee who will help write pieces for the Center and manage the website and social media. She is double-majoring in Public Policy and English and has been to Canada on numerous occasions, so she knows a little bit more than just the latest hockey scores! Holly is a junior and a member of MSU’s Honors College, and has consistently been on the Dean’s List throughout her time at MSU.

Not only is Holly a dedicated writer who works on everything from poetry to satire, but she is part of the Roial Improv Players, MSU’s resident improv troupe. This experience has helped her learn how to generate original content at the drop of a hat and explain things in both an imaginative and understandable way.

We look forward to seeing how Holly brings her writing talents, dedication, and creativity to the Center. Please give her a warm welcome!

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Top Canadian News in 2014

Freestyle skier Alex Bilodeau made history at the Sochi Olympics by repeating as Olympic mogul skiing champion.

The 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia brought success and triumph to some of Canada’s top athletes. After making history as being the first to win gold at the Olympics held on Canadian soil in the 2010 games in Vancouver, Alex Bilodeau went on to win his second gold medal in freestyle skiing this year. Bilodeau finished his last winning run and celebrated with his brother, Frederic. Bilodeau has been notable in the disabled community for raising awareness for cerebral palsy, with which his brother fights. “He lives his dreams through me,” quotes Alex, “(Two gold medals) is the least I can do, he’s my every day inspiration,”(x).

Canadian Women’s Hockey Team beat the USA team 3-2 in overtime in the women’s hockey final at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

In hopes of achieving their fourth Olympic gold medal in a row, the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team swept the competition in overtime. Canada led 2-0 until the USA came back bringing up the score 2-2.  Marie-Philip Poulin of Team Canada scored in overtime awarding Canada the gold medal.

Canada’s Men’s Hockey Team repeated a gold medal performance in Sochi with a 3-0 win over Sweden

Team Canada achieved back to back gold medals when the beat Sweden 3-0 in the Sochi games. Stand-out forewards Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby scored the first two goals with Chris Kunitz bringing in the third in the final period.

Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to walk in space, was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 2014

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada appointed Chris Hadfield an officer of the Order of Canada this year. Hadfield is an acclaimed engineer and a former of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Most notably though, Hadfield flew two space shuttle missions and served as commander of the International Space Station in Spring of 2014. Hadfield grew in popularity when he chronicled his time in space through social media posts on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.

Space Oddity – Chris Hadfield

Ottawa shooting on Parliament Hill on Oct. 22, 2014

At 9:52 a.m. gunfire was heard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. One man was seen have gone down and another four shots were heard. Dozens of gunfire heard in the parliament building while people scrambled into hiding. It was found that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had inititated a violent attack on Parliament Hill and fatally shot Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian soldier stationed on ceremonial sentry duty. After a shootout with security, Zehaf-Bibeau ran inside the building and was then cornered and killed by the Commons Sergeant at Arms, Kevin Vickers.

House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers honored as a hero for taking down the shooter who killed reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24

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HitchBOT, Canada’s hitch hiking robot!

HitchBOT, Canada’s very own hitchhiking robot has become one of my latest fascinations. I mean a talking robot that’s trekking across Canada, who wouldn’t be fascinated?

On Sunday, July 27th, HitchBOT began its 6,000 km journey from Halifax, Nova Scotia, the far east side of Canada. Its final destination? The far west side of Canada in Victoria, British Columbia. This robot can’t walk and has very little protection from people or the elements. It’s armed with rubber gloves, rain boots, pool noodle arms, and a cake server hat. The bot was designed to be about the height of a 6-year-old and that was intentional. Creator Frauke Zeller explains, “(It’s)More the size of a child, so people tend to feel protective like, oh there’s something little I might want to help it.” The bot also has some tricks in its repertoire. It can smile, blink, wink, and chat away for hours with the entirety of Wikipedia memorized.

But what’s the point of this robot, besides serving as an interesting car companion, of course. Well, Zeller explains that for her the purpose is, “Seeing how the robot gets by in our society, fully dependent on human beings.” For fellow creator David Smith HitchBOT serves as a “creative project. I like to think of it as a performative, technological art piece. So, it will ask people if they have a story about hitchhiking or traveling…” Smith further explains the purpose for the bot as, “(it’s) meant to stimulate a reflection on the change in our culture, on our changing kinda social psychology.” Yet, Smith states that this experiment would not be possible in the United States, “Americans are saying oh yeah they’re doing that up in Canada, Canadians are crazy. It’ll probably work in Canada, it’ll never work here, in the States. Because, here in the States we would probably put it into the ditch or shoot it.”

I, personally, would like to think that Smith’s prediction of HitchBOT’s journey through the United States is false, but I’m afraid that he may have a point. So what do you all think. If you were to see HitchBOT on the side of the road would you pick him up? Or would you ignore it? Or maybe even mess around with it? Is it possible that we can analyze the differences in our societies based upon the reactions to a hitchhiking robot?

Tell us what you’re thinking below!

Canadians in Wimbledon? and MLB? and NBA?

Last Sunday afternoon, I turned on Wimbledon to find that a Canadian woman was competing in the championship match. At first, I found this ironic and comical. Of course a Canadian was playing in the championship of Wimbledon just as I started working at MSU’s Canadian Studies Center. Then, I reconsidered. Why shouldn’t Canadians be internationally involved in athletics other than hockey? After doing a bit of research I felt silly for ever wondering that.

I stumbled upon a list of Canada’s greatest athletes of all time and was intrigued to notice the variety of sports represented. Of course, there was an exceptional representation from hockey with a considerable list of hockey players such as, Wayne Gretzky known as “The Great One”, Gordie Howe, Maurice and Henry Richard, and Bobby Orr. Yet, there was a wide range of other spots represented such as, sprinters, rowers, boxers, skiers, as well as golf, tennis, soccer, basketball, baseball and football players(who even knew that Canada had a football team?).

Although hockey remains the most popular sport in Canada, other sports such as tennis, baseball, and basketball are on the rise. During this past Wimbledon tournament four Canadians, Frank Dancovic, Milos Raonic, Sharon Fichman, and Eugenie Bouchard competed. Raonic and Bouchard both advanced to the semifinals with Bouchard competing in the woman’s championship match. Although Bouchard did not win the championship, I think it’s safe to say that Canadian tennis is on its way to becoming the number one tennis nation in North America.

Yet, tennis isn’t the only athletic area that Canada is excelling. Canada’s Toronto Blue Jays are currently ranked second in the American League East conference above both the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Furthermore, the Canadian NBA team, Toronto Raptors just signed the first round pick of Bruno Caboclo to a rookie contract. Canada seems to be diversifying and prevailing at all forms of athletics.

United States athletics better step up their game before Canadians fully take over. Americans may start watching the Canadian Football League (CFL) instead of the National Football League (NFL) in fact, Bleacher Report Correspondent, Jim Flannery claims, “I have long maintained that the CFL is a superior sport…”

“Watchers: A Journey To Alberta” by Jenny Crakes wins the 2014 Balocating Prize for Poetry

Congratulations Jenny!

The RCAH Center for Poetry at MSU

Congratulations to Jenny Crakes, a Junior in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities and Professional Writing at Michigan State University. Crakes won the Center for Poetry’s 2014 Annie Balocating Prize for Poetry for her poem, “Watchers: A Journey To Alberta.” The judge for the 2014 Balocating Prize was Virginia Poet Laureate Sofia M. Starnes, who visited the Center for Poetry on April 16, 2014, to do a poetry reading and announce the winner. Starnes said the following about the winning poem: “The writing is uncluttered, yet rich in metaphor. The scenes are clean and fluid, the language flows seamlessly, the emotion — like centering prayer — gathers the scene around itself, yet is remarkably open. There is mystery, too, which I always value, a layered quality that leaves the reader wondering about the solitary traveler, the ‘what for’ and ‘why’ of the journey, even as the landscape…

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Participating in an American Course based on Canadian Studies

One of the best experiences I have had the privilege of participating in at Michigan State University was ISS 336(Canada Social Science Perspective). ISS at MSU stands for Integrative Studies in Social Science, and they are part of the universities requirements to ensure that students get a well-rounded education. There are tons of options to choose, ranging from classes that focus on a specific culture or geographic area to studying human interaction with the environment. This specific class was taught by the very prestigious Dr. Phillip Handrick. The class itself was rather small, thus allowing for participation to be a strong aspect of the class.

I found it incredibly interesting to learn so much about a culture that had literally been my “neighbor” for all of my life. Although I have been to Canada multiple times, it didn’t mean I understood all the characteristics and features that makes Canada the country it is. The rich and meaningful culture of all the provinces spread from Japan to all of Europe and even parts of South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Africa. The foods of Canada are just as colorful as the culture itself, ranging from Poutine (A fatty meal typically consisting of French fries, topping(Gravy) and Cheese Curds) all the way to dried fish in New Foundland to the amazing Japanese dishes on the West Coast.

Canada truly is an amazing country to both spend time in and to study as a topic. I highly enjoyed my time in this class and would recommend it to any student curious about the wonders that lie in wait in the Maple Leaf Nation.

Why Don’t We Know More About Canada?

As I was squandering time I could have spent working on homework the other day, I stumbled onto a YouTube video of Harvard students being asked where the capitol of Canada is. If you want to watch the video before reading the rest of this post, you can follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0fdYhgJIeE#aid=P8sWj-gVb3w or watch the video below.

Imagine the surprise I felt when watching this video and finding out that almost none of them knew that Ottawa is the capitol of Canada. Of all the students asked in the video, only one knew the correct answer. Want to know how she knew? She’s Canadian.

Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in America, as well as one of the most prestigious schools in the world. Harvard has a reputation for only admitting the best and brightest students, and there is the idea that getting a degree from Harvard can open essentially any door to you. You’ll find Harvard graduates in almost every field ranging from politics and finance, to archaeology and music. So with such high expectations for their students and such a large influence in almost every professional field, how is it that such highly qualified and talented students don’t know where the capitol of Canada is?

Canada is our Northern neighbor. Millions of dollars of trade goods cross the U.S.-Canada border every day. Thousands of Canadians either have dual citizenship, or cross the border regularly for work and play. Canadian snow-birds bring millions of dollars into the U.S. every year, and there are a large amount of cultural similarities between Canadians and Americans. America does more trade in goods and services with Canada than with the entire European Union on a regular basis.

The way I see it, America and Canada are highly interdependent on one other. We are nations that share not only a border, but people and resources as well. Canadian studies is a topic which should really be getting more attention than it currently does. As one of our strongest allies, don’t we, as American citizens owe it to ourselves to be informed about the nation living above us? With personal, economic, and political ties between our two nations, shouldn’t we at least know the basics about Canadian government and history? With a simple introduction to Canadian history and politics at the middle school, or high school level in the U.S., the upcoming generation would be far more knowledgeable about Canadian-American relations than most Americans currently are. It just seems ridiculous that students at one of the most prestigious universities in the world have no idea where the Canadian capitol is. If students at Harvard don’t know where it is, that’s probably a good indicator that most other students in the United States don’t know either. And that is an issue that we could easily fix.

Think my call for an early introduction to Canadian studies is ridiculous?

Have an alternative idea on the situation?

Let us know! Feel free to comment and share your thoughts!