July 17, 2019

Oh Canada: Inspirational Canadian Quotes

Social media has me perplexed of late as to why Canadians are espousing Americanisms as if they were Canadian. The most overused term I’ve found in this category is “the melting pot” — right alongside thinly veiled hate speech masquerading as “freedom of speech” —  and am annoyed that the origin of this term itself has gotten so boiled down as to be unrecognizable. While the coming together of cultures in America is indeed a melting pot, though perhaps less so nowadays than when the term was first coined, as Canadians, we pride ourselves on adopting the mosaic metaphor instead. This allows immigrants to be Canadian and add to the nation’s ethnic and cultural composition rather than attaining some kind of ideal Canadian-ness.

The whole quandary got me thinking about Canadian content mandates set out by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (better known as the CRTC). As an independent public authority that monitors and regulates Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications, its purpose in modern broadcasting is still relevant, yet less prevalent as our media outlets broaden and become more audience-run. Hence, our distinction of what is of Canadian origin gets muddled along the way. That pondering lead me to consider the opportunities available to educate Canadians — and the world — about prominent, though not very well known, Canadians.

Every week at my Grand Fortune City BNI networking meeting, as is done at all BNI chapters around the world, I end the meeting with a quote that is aimed at setting the tone for the rest of the week. I try to find informative, inspirational nuggets that are useful or interesting to entrepreneurs and small business owners. This, I’ve realized, is my opportunity to grow that tradition into a CanCon moment.

Well, first off, let me tell you how difficult it is to find quotes by prominent Canadian business leaders! When I type “famous Canadian quotes” into Google, the first result it serves up is called, “100 Great Canadian Quotes” published by Reader’s Digest. At a glance you’ll see, quite head-shakingly considering this is a very Canadian source, that none of the quotes are uttered, written, or come from actual Canadians. So, it seems, our representation is being written by famous Americans and Brits.

But I will not be deterred. And if I’ve piqued your curiosity as well through this, I’ve decided to make it a little easier. Here is my list, which we update frequently.


Illuminating Quotes by REAL Canadians


“Defeat is not bitter unless you swallow it.”

~Joe Clark, former Prime Minister, businessman


“I don’t look at myself as a leader. I do look at myself as part of a community.”

~Michael J. Fox. Actor, Comedian, Author, Film Producer

“Collaboration is important not just because it’s a better way to learn. The spirit of collaboration is penetrating every institution and all of our lives. So learning to collaborate is part of equipping yourself for effectiveness, problem-solving, innovation and life-long learning in an ever-changing networked economy.”

~ Don Tapscott. Dan is a Canadian business executive, author, consultant and speaker, who specializes in business strategy, organizational transformation and the role of technology in business and society. He is the CEO of the Tapscott Group and the co-founder and Executive Chairman of the Blockchain Research Institute.

“Say yes to the opportunities that life is offering.”

~ William Shatner. Actor and Musician

“Those who take action have a disproportionate impact. The power of one is to move many.”

~Elizabeth May, leader of the federal Green Party. Whether you agree with May’s take on policies or not, we really have to acknowledge her achievements, which include being able to work singularly, without the support of other party members’ support, with other parties’ members and leaders to bring policy into effect. She came from a law background and her work included serving as the Executive Director of the Sierra Club during 1989 – 2006 where she received many awards, including the UN Nations 500 Award in 1990 and the Order of Canada.

“Don’t get holed up in your office. Get out on the shop floor. Have lunch with the workers. You have to be a leader, not a boss. If you’re open & honest with employees, and you consult with them, they’ll walk through fire with you.”

~Frank Stronach. 2018 1.5 B net worth, father of Belinda Stronach

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you cannot go through a particular door. Always be prepared to go through a door that leads to your goal.”

~Ann Saddlemyer, scholar

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

~Lucy Maud Montgomery, Canadian author for the Anne of Green Gables series. Her first book was published in 1008

“Create new models”, “new ideas take work to shift mindsets but it is worth it”, “focus on the solution”  as shared and demonstrated by Toni of ⁦@abeego⁩ . #rbccweavancouverbreakfast #persistence #trailblazer@RBC⁩ ⁦@WomenOfInflnce⁩”

~ Jill Earthy (@jearthy) April 18, 2019, Gender equity champion with a focus on increasing # of women in investment sector at FemaleFunders, Co-chair at We for She

“I don’t think one can explain growth. It is silent and subtle. One does not keep digging up a plant to see how it grows.”

~ Emily Carr, Canadian Artist

“It took 10 years time for Shopify to be an overnight success.”

~ Tobias Lutke, Founder & CEO of Shopify. Originally from Germany, now a Canadian citizen residing in Ottawa.

“Even before you’ve earned it, treat yourself and your career with the level of respect that you hope to one day deserve.”

~ Catherine O’Hara, Canadian-American actress, writer, and comedian

“The leadership role is really to build the riverbanks and let the water flow freely.”

~ Bonnie Brooks, vice-chairman of Hudson’s Bay Company


I’d really love to grow this list for all Canadians’ sake. Please leave your favourite quote – or your favourite Canadian leader – in the comments below and I’ll feature it at one of my BNI meetings. Interested in joining me for a BNI meeting? Get in touch!16th