Canadian Flag Tag on Luggage

Dec 11th, 2003, 03:16 AM
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Canadian Flag Tag on Luggage

There was a recent article in the New York Times concerning American being overly sensitive to the fact that Canadians have those damn Canadian flag tags on their luggage and the perception that this is done so that Canadians are clearly identified as 'non-American'. I am curious to know how many of us actually have these flag tags and why. Personally I have had a Canadian flag of some sort on my luggage and a lapel pin over my heart since the early 70's. I do so for two reasons. One...when off continent it is easier to find my luggage on the turnstile amongst all the other black bags of equal size. people know I am Canadian not necessarily so they know I am non-American. There is a sterotype of the ugly American (boorish, centre of the universe, loud) out there which sometimes initiates a negative response to my presence or inquiry. If I am approaching an individual in another country they may assume I am that stereotypical American the Canadian flag lets them know otherwise.
JJDave is offline  
Dec 11th, 2003, 05:17 AM
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It seems to me that many Canadians, such as yourself, wear maple leave pins and use other identifiers such as baggage tags, not so much from national pride, but from fear of being taken for Americans. In fact, that may well be a stereotypical Canadian attitude, to define one's nationality as being non-American.

If, as you say, the stereotypical American is boorish, loud and regards the U.S. as the centre of the universe, all you need to do distinguish yourself from these barbarian hordes is to behave differently (which I am sure that you do!)

In my experience, however, most Americans abroad do not fit that stereotype, and are respectful of and interested in learning about the countries they are visiting. We have all seen the loud and ignorant, and I can certainly give a few choice examples, but I must say that is not a characteristic confined to Americans abroad. (Have you ever seen English football fans?).

When I travel, I don't feel a need to advertise my nationality. If anyone asks, I'll certainly own up to being a Canadian. However, I've never plastered my luggage with maple leaves or worn maple leaf badges, except for those which I wore with pride on my uniform.

laverendrye is offline  
Dec 11th, 2003, 05:47 AM
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I am an American who saw many of those Canadian flags on backpacks/luggage when traveling through Europe for 2 months. My boyfriend and I kept joking that it must be a requirement to have one on your bag before leaving Canada. Actually, once in Mexico I saw a woman who had her nails airbrushed with the flag! Truth be told, I have had a Canadian flag on my backpack for years now. Just because I love Canada and think its a great country. But I am probably the only one in Boston with one so its harmless. I did not, however, bring that bag abroad. I actually wondered if there was a resurgent of pride in Canada due to the Quebecois threat of secession. Maybe Canadians felt hurt at Quebecers attitude that Canada was nothing? I don't know. But feel proud to be Canadian, its a great country!
quebec is offline  
Dec 11th, 2003, 07:25 AM
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I think that there is a resurgence of pride in Canada because we have lately discovered how wonderful and beautiful this country really is!! A lot of us feel that we are very lucky to live here, and we want to shout our joy from the rooftops!!
While travelling in eastern Europe I was very amused to find that the saying for having a good life was "living as in Canada"!!!
If people from any other country are disturbed by our patriotism, that is THEIR problem. I would never criticize anyone else including Americans for their patriotism (which IMHO is more conspicuous than ours, and probably has something to do with numbers - the US has nearly 10 times the number of people that Canada does).
Be proud of who you are, but don't put anyone else down for being proud of who they are.
Live and let live.
Borealis is offline  
Dec 11th, 2003, 11:56 AM
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Borealis: I thought that JJDave's point was that he was proud of being who he is isn't, i.e. an American.
laverendrye is offline  
Dec 11th, 2003, 01:05 PM
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I don't have any luggage tags, but I do have a maple leaf tatoo on my leg. I love my country, I am proud to be a part of it. When I travel, it is probibly not even noticable to others but I know it is there, and a little piece of home.
LissaJ is offline  
Dec 13th, 2003, 03:51 PM
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I am an American and even before September 11th, I did not carry flags or wear them on my clothes or luggage.
None of my European friends wear country symbols on their clothes or luggage either.
My son mentioned this to me one day when he was flying in from Japan and wondered about seeing so many Canadian flags everywhere outside of Canada. He had been told that it was so Canadians would not be mistaken for Americans.
I see from this thread that not much has changed.
Has anyone wondered if a person might hide behind a Canadian flag to feel safe when traveling, then might terrorists think the same thing and that flag might bring unwanted attention to Canadians also?
Scarlett is offline  
Dec 13th, 2003, 06:56 PM
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I'm an American and I visit Canada at least annually -- even enjoying Canada Day festivities in Ottawa a couple of times. From Halifax to Vancouver and everywhere in between, I've always met a lot of nice people and had a great time. I have a couple of Canadian flag baggage tags that I picked up as souvenirs and using them has resulted in meeting a number of Canadians in my travels elsewhere. While there are times and places where an American flag might prove to be a lightening rod for some, it is not nearly as likely to be case with the maple leaf. There may be some value to that at times and to the extent that it might tend to mislead someone who chooses to make assumptions without knowing anything about me, that is just fine. I'm not embarrassed to be an American in the slightest. I just don't advertise it to strangers when I'm abroad, as a matter of prudence.
Flyboy is offline  
Dec 13th, 2003, 08:17 PM
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Hi JJDave:

I am Canadian & all of my bags have Canadian flags on them.

While I have always been very proud to be a Canadian I do want to ensure that I'm not mistaken for an American.

As a huge Red Sox (& baseball in general) fan, I have a large collection of team t-shirts & hats - in Bali one day I wore a Red Sox shirt & in Nairobi I wore a D'Backs one (had Boston & Arizona printed on the front) and in both cases I was approached by people expressing anti-American feelings.

While neither situation was serious & ended quickly when I said I was Canadian (& showed my Canadian flag, in each situation the person who approached me had a friend who lived in Canada). So now when I pack for an international trip I leave any t-shirt/hat that references anything American at home. As no sense bringing extra attention to myself.


TravelMaster is offline  
Dec 14th, 2003, 11:12 AM
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I do have a Canadian flag luggage tag which I bought before one of my trips a few years ago. I didn't buy it because it was a Canadian flag, I just thought I should have something other than the paper ones that the airlines provide. My bags are the usual navy bag - like 50% of the bags on the flights.

One thing I have noticed in the US is the large number of people who fly the US flag outside their homes. That always seems odd to me, although I have to say I'm not sure why I find it odd! I rarely see the Canadian flag flown here in Canada outside a private home.
SusanInToronto is offline  
Dec 14th, 2003, 11:50 AM
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I am a Canadian and we travel extensively. We do not usually use lapel pins or Canada tags on our luggage. There are two exceptions-travel to Holland and travel to China.
In these two countries it truly can make a difference thought it has absolutely nothing to do with not wanting to be confused as being of another nationality.
johnian is offline  
Dec 14th, 2003, 12:08 PM
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I have proudly worn a Canadian flag pin when travelling for over 20 years. I have seen Americans wearing American flag pins. I have seen Australians wearing Australian flag patches on back packs. I have seen French wearing French flag pins. I have seen Belgians wearing Belgian flag patches and many others wearing pins or patches or other items identifying their nationalities. In my youth hostelling days trading pins or t-shirts or patches was a fun thing we did with new friends - I still have a great New Zealand flag patch. I REALLY do not undertstand why it is OK for Americans to want to identify themselves or show love of country or whatever but somehow it is suspect and wrong for other nationalities to do the same thing.
JMM is offline  
Dec 14th, 2003, 01:15 PM
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We have a Canadian Flag Tag on all our luggage. It is a lot easier to identify your luggage in a sea of black bags for one. The other reason is that we are proud Canadians. In general, I don't believe we are a nation of "Flag Wavers", but rather we do it unobtrusively, vis a vis our lapel pins and luggage tags. We have always been that way.

It's too bad that some American's are overly sensitive to us being proud of who we are, but I'm sure the majority are not like that.

P.S., I think its great that they are noticing our flag though, at least they won't be flying it upside

torontopm is offline  
Dec 15th, 2003, 09:21 AM
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We used to wear Canadian flag lapel pins when we travelled, but we noticed it tended to make it more difficult to bargain or price-haggle, so we quit. We wore the pins as a "goodwill ambassador" thing - just a "Hi, we're from Canada and are loving your country" sentiment. Besides, I got tired of explaining that Cnada had more places in it than Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, which seem to be all the cities a lot of people have heard of.
luna is offline  
Feb 18th, 2004, 09:04 AM
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Here's a thought:
My Canadian boyfriend went to Europe last year (this was all before Sept. 11th, so would not be related to any of the recent developments in iraq, etc.).

Anyway, he & his friends, all about 18 years old, were in McDonald's, I belileve it was in France, where they were receiving glares from another group of guys. This group of guys were obviously none too happy to see them and were glaring at them cruelly. They felt uncomfortable.

Anyway, I can't recall how it came about, but my boyfriend mentioned that they were from Canada. All of a sudden the group smiled and said something to the like of, "Oh hey! How's it going! sorry, we thought you were americans!"

How terrible... but it does seem to be true.. My boyfriend made sure to affix canadian flags to all of his things. Otherwise, they would just assume he was American, while I guess he was treated better as a Canadian.

Sad, but seems to be true. Hopefully the American image can someday be restored.
peter519 is offline  
Feb 18th, 2004, 03:36 PM
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peter519, your story doesn't ring true. Also, if your boyfriend went to Europe last year that was 2003. The attacks of September 11th were in 2001 well before his trip.
JohnK is offline  
Feb 19th, 2004, 05:58 AM
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How many Canadians will now be dangling Tim Horton mugs on their backpacks?

I personally am going to replace my Canadian flag patches with Conan O'Brian patches.
diddl_maus is offline  
Aug 26th, 2005, 11:00 AM
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I was rummaging through some old threads and I came across this one which both humors and annoys me.

It seems that mostly Canadians have responded to this thread, so let me give an American point of view -- you know we have opinions on everything. ;^)

I don't think many Americans would say that national pride is bad to express, but what it comes down to is the motivation behind that expression. National pride? Fine. Knee-jerk jingoism? Bad. To deflect bigotry? Bad.

Personally, I think Canada is a fantastic country and I'd be proud to be Canadian if I was born there. The US couldn't have a better neighbor, IMO. My last boyfriend was a Canadian living here in Massachusetts. Actually, one of my favorite weekends in Provincetown is the July 4th/Canada Day weekend since so many friendly Canadians are around. Given all the great things about Canada, particularly her people, Canadians *should* be proud of what they've got. Wearing a lapel pin with that in mind is perfectly understandable.

What annoys me, as an American, is when a Canadian *only* wears a lapel pin or maple leaf patch to announce to the world, "Don't hate *me*. Don't mistreat *me*. I am not an ugly American! Spit in his soup, not mine!" That kind of Candian lapel pin is both an insult to Americans and demeaning to your country.

It is not lost on me that being an American is a negative in some lands, but I could never fathom the mentality of some who *hate* people from someplace else just because of their government's policies or because of the perceived ignorance of some of its tourists. I dislike the mullahs ruling Iran, but it is completely against my nature to not be kind to an Iranian seeking my help. The stereotype of the German tourist is to be notoriously difficult, but I would never show disrespect to a German asking me directions. Heck, I dislike Bush, but would I mistreat a tourist from a red state?? Get real.

My point behind all this is that the people who mistreat others because of where they're from are the ones with the problem. If you only wear a Canadian pin to distinguish yourself as a non-American, you're not exactly standing up to bigotry. If anything, you're just deflecting it onto others.
Aqua67 is offline  
Aug 26th, 2005, 11:58 AM
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Here are my guesses of the top reasons why people attach a maple leaf to their luggage:

1. It is always fun to run into other Canadians, or people interested in Canada, and the flag catches attention and starts up conversations.

2. Celebration of travel and a bit of "abassadorship". Australians are big patch users as well. I don't think Europeans bother so much, as they are all so used to international travel. For Americans, Canadians and Australians and Kiwis, international travel is a big deal. It is a bit like the nationality stickers on cars. It lets people know you aren't "from around here".

2. Lack of fear in letting others know your nationality. I think a lot more Americans would do the same if they felt comfortable that they could without drawing the "wrong kind" of attention.

3. You don't want to be mistaken as an American. This doesn't mean you loathe the idea, or hate Americans! Hardly anyone outside of North American can distinguish an American accent from a Canadian one. Having people always assume you are something you aren't can be tiresome.

4. It is tradition. Canadian kids have been sewing patches on their back packs for years!

5. It is a nice looking flag, and pretty flashy looking, so helps you identify your bags.

I have always had a Canadain flag on my bags, but am having second thoughts since my last trip. I found that it encouraged WAYYY too much US bashing. Everyone we met just wouldn't shut up about George W Bush, and Americans in general.

Most Americans who travel internationally seem to be very open minded and respectful. It is so unfortunate for them to be discriminated about or seen as "ugly americans". Maybe more Americans SHOULD wear flag patches, it might draw some attention to the fact that there are very nice, friendly and polite Americans!!

I find Americans to be among the most decent travellers. Maybe a bit loud, but not mean or pushy or unfriendly - which can't be said for many nationalities!!
Aug 26th, 2005, 01:15 PM
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A few months ago I ran into a couple in a bar (in America). After sriking up a conversation with them I saw she had a Canadian flag patch sewn on her backpack. Having some friends from Toronto, and thinking she may be Candian so we could swap the usual have you been so and so stories, I asked her where she was from. She replied that she was not Canadian and in fact was American. She said she was in China the previous summer and had gotten mugged while there, so she put the patch on so she wouldn't get into any more trouble. I looked at her incrediously and asked if she really believed that a mugger is going to stop and consider her nationality. She just looked at me blankly without any recognition of what I meant.

I don't have any issues with Canadians putting their patches on as a custom of theirs. I do have issues with Americans doing it to "hide" though. Be proud of where you are from, don't hide from it. I know the argument for many will be, "Well I don't support the current government so I not proud of where I am from right now." In my opinion that is part of why you should be proud, that democracy works here and you can have an effect on changing the government. Use the oportunity to help change ignorant attitudes about Amreicans and our government. Then maybe the misconceptions will begin to dissapear.
gurgs24 is offline  

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