Canadian Rites of Passage

Canadian Rites of Passage

Charlotte Hardy, Writer

Around the world, every culture has their own rites of passage. Across the pond in England, turning eighteen is a huge deal, you are officially and legally an adult. At the age of six the children experience their first cup of tea, and from then on are expected to drink one cup a day at high noon.

In Switzerland growing up, you must all learn how to ski on the alps. Learning to ski proves your loyalty to your family and proves your independence.

Every country has different sets of milestones in place for their youth to achieve as they grow up. In Canada, we have some really important rites of passage you must achieve to be acknowledged as an adult in our country. Some are traditional, while others are modern.

Let’s start from the beginning:  growth until the age of six is just dedicated to developing and learning to talk, walk, read and write. By the age of six we must be fluent in both English and French, due to Canada being a multicultural country. Many children choose between the two picking one to be their first language, or they switch back and forth while speaking to each other, ils trouvent cela amusant.

Six years later at age twelve is when the children are taken out into our vast forests and must kill their first moose or bear. This may take days; the child gets time off of school and must stay in the forest until they come out with their prize. Doing this symbolizes independence and being able to provide for your family. Having the strength to stay alone in the forests with nothing but a shotgun is a very nerve wracking experience, after awhile you relax into your environment and become more comfortable with the earth surrounding you.

By the age of fifteen Canadian children (or now teenages) must construct their very own igloo and spend a night in it, more often than not this happens on their birthday. If the family lives in the south of Canada, they make a trek up north to family or friends. The country is small enough in population that everyone knows each other.

Age sixteen is a big year in Canada, teens are finally allowed to start tapping trees for maple syrup. Being able to supply their families with fresh maple syrup is a huge accomplishment and looked forward to by all youth across the country.

Eighteen is the big year in Canada. This is the last big rite of passage that we possess as a country, although there are still many unspoken ones what we celebrate as we reach certain ages. Many privileges are granted to the now legal adults in our country. Being eighteen means having the ability to vote in federal elections, drink alcohol in some provinces, and finally being allowed to ride a Polar Bear for the first time. Riding a Polar Bear is a huge honour, you book an appointment ahead of time with the sanctuary and get an hour slot to learn to ride. Much like riding a horse, there is a saddle on the bear with stirrups and a crop to help control the bear.

Here in Canada we infuse our culture with modern and traditional aspects. Being multicultural is a pride that we hold and cherish. We dig back to our roots and celebrate our ancestors as Canadians. Connecting with our land growing up and learning the languages of the colonizers of the land. Being able to identify with and celebrate our pasts while we are in the present is truly a gift to all Canadians.