Student Guide and Resources
NIC prepared extensive information to assist you navigate your academic life, prepare for living in Vancouver and have a better understanding of Canadian culture. Access these resources through the topics below:
Facts and Statistics
- Location: Northern North America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean on the east, North Pacific Ocean on the west, and the Arctic Ocean on the north, north of USA.
- Capital: Ottawa
- Flag: The Canadian flag, known unofficially as ‘The Maple’ or ‘l’Unifolie’ in French, meaning ‘the one leaf’has a red field in the centre of which is a white square featuring a red maple leaf
- National anthem: The national anthem for Canada is ‘O Canada’.
- Nationality: Canadian
- Ethnic Make-up: British Isles origin 28%, French origin 23%, other European 15%, Amerindian 2%, other, mostly Asian, African, Arab 6%, mixed background 26%
- Population: 37+ million (2019)
- Time Zone: Canada has six time zones: Pacific – UTC 8.00, Mountain – UTC 7.00, Central – UTC 6.00, Eastern – 5.00, Atlantic – 4.00, Newfoundland – 3.30
- Currency: The currency in Canada is the Canadian Dollar
- Government: Federal parliamentary democracy (Parliament of Canada) under a constitutional monarchy.
- Business Culture: Ranked 16th in The Business Culture Complexity Index™
Canada is national that is inclusive of all persons of different cultures, faiths, ethnicities, and languages. In Canada, we celebrate the diversity which contributes to the richness, vibrancy, and uniqueness of the country, and mutual tolerance and understanding is promoted.
Multiculturalism is an integral part of Canadian identity and heritage. In fact, Canada so deeply values its multicultural identity that, in 1985, the Canadian Multiculturalism Act was passed to preserve and enhance multiculturalism in Canada.
In Canada, regardless of of their gender, ethnicity, skin colour, language, religion, political affiliations, sexual orientation, age, or disability, all people are equal. Discrimination against any individual based on any of the above factors is not only unacceptable, but unconstitutional, as per Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. All persons have the right to be treated equally.
Family and Gender Roles
In Canada, it is common to encounter non-traditional family models such as single parents, unwed parents, divorced parents, blended families, and families with same-sex couples.
In Canada, men and women are considered equals. Gender-based violence is not tolerated. Both men and women can both participate in political life and enter government with perceived equal status
Time Zones, Clock changes and Hours of Business
Hours of Business: business hours are 9AM-5PM. Some businesses will open earlier and close later. Opening hours on weekends and holidays sometimes differ. If you are unsure when a business will be open, you can often find the information online.
Time Zone and Daylight savings: The time zone in Vancouver is the Pacific Standard Time. In Vancouver, we observe daylight savings. We advanced clocks during warmer months so that darkness falls later each day according to the clock. The typical implementation of DST is to set clocks forward by one hour in the spring (“spring forward”) and set clocks back by one hour in autumn (“fall back”).
Canadians will use the metric system to measure things. Distance is measured in kilometers; temperature is measured in Celsius. However, many Canadians will still measure their own personal height and weight in terms of feet and pounds, rather than meters and kilograms.
You may encounter some words that are spelled differently from American English, such as colour (rather than color), theatre (rather than theater), defence (rather than defense). However, in other ways, Canadian spelling follows the same rules as American English, in words such as organize (rather than organise), and tire (rather than tyre).
Tipping is customary and expected in Canada. It is common practice to tip waiting staff 15 – 20% of the bill in restaurants and to apply a tip of 10% for most other service providers (such as hairdressers, taxi drivers, valets etc.).
Canadians appreciate politeness and expect others to adhere to the proper protocol for any given situation. Shaking hands with everyone at the meeting upon arrival and departure is customary. Remember to maintain eye contact while shaking hands. However, business practices and culture vary across Canada from region to region, so make sure you read up on the area that you will be visiting.