Is Canada a Nation? Essay

1167 Words Dec 9th, 2010 5 Pages
The concept of nationhood is a complex one. What makes a country a nation? What is a nation? In this essay, we will attempt to gain an understanding of what a nation is, and why Canada is in fact a nation, not merely because we meet certain criteria, but because we, as Canadians, believe it is so. To define the term “nation” is quite a challenging task. The Student’s Oxford Canadian Dictionary defines a nation as, “a community of people forming a state or inhabiting a territory” (Barber, et al., 2007). In contrast to many other resources, this definition is an extremely simple one. The same dictionary defines a state as “an organized political community under one government” (Barber, et al., 2007). By these definitions, Canada clearly …show more content…
So the main question still remains: Is Canada a real nation? To answer this question, we must fully understand what makes a nation. The above definitions are both from dictionaries, and both from Oxford dictionaries nonetheless, albeit different editions. A more clear and universal meaning for this complex term has been created by French theorist Ernest Renan. He says that, “A large aggregate of man, healthy in mind and warm of heart, creates the kind of moral conscience which we call a nation” (Renan, 1881). In this definition we see a much simpler definition. With this definition he is essentially throwing out the complex requirements mentioned in other definitions, especially when he states, “man is a slave neither of his race nor his language, nor of his religion, nor of the course of rivers nor of the direction taken by mountain chains” (Renan, 1881). By saying that man is not a slave to his race, language or religion he is denouncing almost all of the requirements stated in the above definitions. He is stating that people do not require a common race, religion, or language to be part of a nation. Renan even goes a step farther when we states that man is not constrained by “the course of the river nor the direction taken by mountain chains” (Renan, 1881). By this statement he is asserting that it doesn’t even matter where people live, for they do not need to live together geographically to be part of a common nation.
Renan believes that the members of this

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