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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
May 22, 2015

Canadian Excellence

Canadian Society

The capital of Canada is Ottawa. Visit the City of Ottawa website to find more. Canadians are mainly of British Isles and French origin, 44.75 percent and 28.7 percent respectively. The Indian and Inuit people make up less than 2 percent of the population, and the remaining 25 percent are of other ethnic backgrounds.

You will find Canadian society different from to what you are accustomed. Through its 1971 policy of multiculturalism, the Canadian Government stresses the philosophy of cultural pluralism. In accordance with this policy, immigrants to Canada are encouraged to express and preserve their cultural identity. Therefore, the Canadian population is composed of many different language and diverse ethnic groups.


In Canada and at our university, we encourage and expect the mutual recognition and tolerance of diverse cultural groups. We try to recognize and understand the nuances and subtleties of all cultures. Unfortunately, you may still experience some type of racism situation. Generally, racism may take many forms, such as race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, employment-hiring practices and so on. To cope with any racism situation see staff at Laurier International, talk about it with you fellow colleagues, contact the WLU Harassment and Discrimination Coordinator (519)884-0710 ext. 6979 or 2037 or talk with the Coordinator for Student Diversity (519)884-0710 ext. 3208.

Culture Shock

You may also find day-to-day living difficult at first. This experience has been termed "culture shock" and you may feel lonely, angry, and frustrated. These feelings are common to anyone as they first experience living in a new country. To help with these feelings and to make the transition to your life here easier, we urge you to ask questions when confused, talk with faculty, speak with the International Student Advisor at Laurier International or talk with your LIFE mentor. The faculty and staff at Laurier are very friendly and will be more than happy to answer your questions, as well as assist you in settling into your new environment.

Most of all, you should make an effort to meet Canadian students in your classes and participate in activities. Friendships and speaking with people will help you become oriented and discover interesting Canadian customs. This will reduce the degree of culture shock and will make your stay more enjoyable.


Canada is officially a bilingual country: English and French. You see information in both languages on government documents, food containers, posters and so on. Keep in mind that accents and terminology are individual to each country. Therefore, it is very important that people understand you and you understand them! Do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for clarification or repetition.

Rituals such as cultural expressions, terms of speech or body language mean very different things in a different country. Learn about Canadian communication; if you have any doubts or questions ask your LIFE mentor, International Student Advisor or other WLU faculty or staff members. Remember-proper and clear communication is necessary for your academic success.

It is important for you to overcome any lack of technological knowledge you may have in order to be successful in your studies. Learn to use available resources to become familiar with technologies such as computers (emails, computer software), library indexing systems, and cells/telephones. Ask International Student Advisor or your departmental advisor about available computer training courses.

Issues of Gender and Sexual Relations

Canadians have a relaxed approach to dress, selecting clothing in which they will be comfortable. You should never assume that a seemingly "sexy" style of dressing means that the wearer wants to have sexual relations. Dress styles should never provide grounds for harassment (sexual or otherwise), intimidation or assault.

If you feel pressured or offended by unwanted sexual overtures from someone, tell the person firmly to STOP. Sometimes, polite approaches may be misunderstood. Say NO when you mean no. Be firm, direct and assertive, as often passivity may be mistaken as implying permission.

In addition, you are accountable under Canadian law for your actions. Drugs and alcohol usually prevent clear thinking and responsible behaviour. They offer no grounds for assaulting or offending other people. Avoid drug and alcohol abuse.

If you have a problem or concern at your place of work or study, contact the WLU Harassment/ Discrimination Office, (519)884-0710 ext. 6979, the Coordinator for Student Diversity (519)884-0710 ext. 3208 or the WLU International Student Advisor at (519)884-0710 ext.6840.

Legal Issues

It is beyond the scope of this Handbook to describe the Canadian legal system. However, there are certain points that are important for you to know. Our system is based on the Acts of federal and provincial parliaments, judicial decisions as well as British Common Law, with the exception of the province of Quebec where the legal system is based on French Civil Law.

There are many laws in Canada or Ontario that may be different from those in your country, and it would be impossible to go through all of them. However, you should be familiar with your rights and responsibilities, on and off campus.


The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canadian Laws protect your rights. The Charter states that anyone residing in Canada has freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of thought, belief, opinion, press and other media of communication, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association. If you think at any time during your stay here that you are being discriminated against for racial or other reasons, we urge you to seek assistance from the Harassment/ Discrimination office, (519)884-0710 ext. 6979, the Office of Student Diversity (519)884-0710 ext. 3208 and/or International Student Advisor to discuss your concerns. As a person residing in Canada, you will have rights and responsibilities under Canadian laws.

Liquor Laws

You must be 19 years or older to drink alcohol legally in Ontario. You cannot buy alcohol if you are less than 19 years of age; appear intoxicated or maybe purchasing alcohol for underage individual. You may be asked to show a proof of age if you appear to be under 25 years old. To purchase alcohol at a liquor store, restaurant, pub or bar you may be asked to show a passport, a driverís licence or BYID card that proves that you are 19 years or older. It is illegal to consume alcohol in the street, parks, public or private transportation, and other public premises that are not licensed to sell alcohol. You can consume alcohol only on licensed premises, your residence, or other private places. If you appear to be heavily intoxicated, you will not be served any alcohol on licensed premises such as bars, restaurants and so on. As well, you cannot take out or bring in any alcohol from mentioned above licensed premises. Drinking and driving is against the law. Check the Laurier website and the website for the LCBO for more information.


Bring Your Identification Card (BYID Card), endorsed by the provincial government, proves that you are of legal drinking age. To apply for a BYID card you must
  • be at least 19 years old
  • have your a passport size colour photo
  • photocopies of documents proving date of birth and name-passport
  • filled application
  • $30 fee
A guarantor must sign the back of the photo, all documentation and fill out a section of the application.†

Ontario Non-smoking legislation

You have to be 19 years or older to purchase tobacco products and you may be asked to show ID when purchasing tobacco products. The Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits smoking in all workplaces and indoor public places for example university buildings, bars, restaurants, etc.