The Cultural History of My Family Essay Example

Paper Type:  Creative writing
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1688 Words
Date:  2022-10-20


One of the most important aspects of human life is culture as it influences the way people think about life, their education, and lifestyles. One of the ways to understand the culture of a people is by living among them for several months. Even at that one still needs to live exactly the way such people live to allow him or her the opportunity to interact with their culture effectively. To understand my ethnography, it is important that one makes a comparison of the culture of Haiti people and that of the people in Canada in terms of language, education, poverty, and the food that people eat.

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Language is one of the unique and rich aspects of Haiti culture as it does not only influence the education people to get but also their interaction with the outside world. For instance, being a Haitian, my parents did not know much English before we moved to Canada as they only used French and Creole in Haiti (Brice Foundation International, 2017). In Haiti, people speak French, learn in French and interact at the workplace in French in most cases. Both French and Creole are official languages used in Haiti. However, the two are not used in equal measure. Creole is mostly used in daily conversations among the people living in the mountains. On the other hand, French is mostly used at workplaces including businesses and offices. The French language id only learned in school, hence used only by either secondary school students or educated adults. My family being of the elite class, we used French even for informal conversations in our household. My K-12 education was not affected by my language as I had stayed in Canada for long enough to learn English.

The fluency with which people speak French depends on the level of education, a place a person lives and his or her interaction with social media. In fact, French is considered a sign of social class in Haiti. In some cases, people who speak French fluently shun those who do not, citing that they are less civilized and of a lower social class than they are. From what my parents told me, Creole is considered less official as it is a unique mixture of other languages including some African dialect, Spanish, French, English, and Taino. Creole is similar among most speakers, even from other Caribbean islands including Martinique and Guadeloupe. When my family moved to Canada, we could cope a little in terms of language as French is one of the popular languages used in the country (Ennals, 2011). Despite the fact that English is spoken by most of the Canadians and even residents, other aboriginal languages are used by many people across the country. Again, learning the English language in Canada became easy for me as it was for my other family members as well, that was because we mostly interacted with the elite either at school or at work.


Food is another important aspect of the culture of the people of Haiti and Canada. Slight differences in the types of foods eaten and the frequency of eating among people of the same social class is one of the facts I cannot assume to have noticed. One of the similarities is that in both Canada and Haiti, people observe the food culture of three meals per day among families that can afford them. In my family, the culture of three meals per day was has been so natural that one may easily fail to know it matters. People living in the rural areas of Haiti may not observe the three meals per day culture. In most cases, they depend on cassava, which is bread made from manioc, coffee, and biscuits for breakfast, after which, they may stay up to evening with no other meal. In Haiti, main meals are shared by all members of the family as they gather around a table, this is usually done at midday among people living in the cities. However, this tradition is increasingly becoming impossible to maintain as varied work, and school schedules lead to eating at staggered times (Global Affairs Canada, n.d.). It also contributes to the current trend of families eating the main meals at different places. For instance, both my parents work at different places, and they take their lunch at their workplaces, the only times that we share the main meals are during public holidays and weekends.

What makes my culture special to me is the fact that it instills hospitality and respect. For instance, diner, which is another important meal in Haiti culture is usually done among middle-class families by people serving their meals from main dishes on the table. In case there are visitors, they are given the first priority to serve before the members of the family do. This is as a sign of respect and hospitality. In case there are no visitors, the heads of the family, who are the mother and the father are given the first priority to serve themselves before the others do it. This culture is also observed in Canadian culture as regards the observation of table manners.

Canada land general is fertile land and has a rich agricultural and farming heritage known for producing animal products and farm products. Canadians are classed as "big eaters" particularly meat. In the past, most of the families in Canada used to have three meal a day, which includes breakfast lunch and the main meal, which was held in the evening. The reason why the main meal was held at evening is that it is in the evening that the family members are all present at home. Canada has a large and diverse ethnic population that is spread across the country in order to have significant variations of traditional meals and foods (Global Affairs Canada, n.d.). Most of the preferable and popular foods in Canada include Peameal bacon, poutines which originated from Quebec and consists of French fries together with cheese that is topped with brown gravy and finally Maple syrup and butter tarts, pancakes, and doughnuts (Ennals, 2011).


I believe my culture affects literacy and learning since the level of poverty, which includes poor health standards to reduce the opportunities for quality education. Despite the fact that my family was one of the middle-class families in Haiti, my father told me about poverty in the country. According to what my father told me and the information I retrieved from World Bank statistics, Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere (World Bank, 2018). It is also classified under the poorest countries among the developing nations. The per capita income in the country is USD 250; this is considered extremely low as it is an equivalent of one-tenth of the average of Latin America (World Bank, 2018). Another reason why Haiti is considered as a poor country is that more than eighty percent of its population lives below the poverty line (Global Affairs Canada, n.d.).

To make the matter worse, the poverty situation in Haiti has not been improving; rather, it has been becoming worse over the past decade. Other social indicators associated with poverty in Haiti include life expectancy, which is only fifty-seven years, which is a big difference from the eighty-two years life expectancy in Canada. Another social indicator of poverty is the literacy level, which indicates that less than half of the Haiti population is literate. Some of the reasons people move from Haiti and look for better opportunities for their children in other countries is because of the poverty and literacy levels in the country. For instance, my father told me that only one out five children of high school age have the chance of receiving secondary education. Health issues are also indicators of poverty in the country, for instance, only twenty-five percent of children in the country receive vaccination and about only one-fourth of the country's population have access to clean and safe water.

On the other hand, according to 2013 statistics, nearly five million people in Canada are suffering from poverty-that is to say one out of seven individual in Canada lives in poverty (Rudolph & McLachlan, 2013). Poverty in Canada is a widespread issue across the country, but most people who are affected by poverty in Canada include people living with disabilities, elderly individuals, single parents, youths, and racialized communities. How poverty affects Canadians can be expressed in different aspects relating to an individual's life such as food security, housing, and health (Ennals, 2011).


In my case, I perfectly understand two different types of culture as we maintain our original cultural beliefs, ways of life and customs even when we live among other people with different cultures. For instance, I am Haitian because both of my parents are Haitians. However, I also understand the culture of the people who live in Canada as I lived there for the most part of my life. My family lived in Haiti until I was at the age of five, after which, we moved to Canada, where we live up to date. I have to admit that Canada and Haiti are two different places with two different cultures. At times, the cultural beliefs of the people in Haiti have a sharp contradiction with the culture of the people living in Canada. This sometimes leads to challenges as one may be forced to live in a way that is inconsistent with what they believe in.


Brice Foundation International. (2017). Haitian Culture and Tradition. Retrieved from

Ennals, P. (2011). The Ordinary People of Essex: Environment, Culture, and Economy on the Frontier of Upper Canada. Environmental History, 16(4), 731-731. doi: 10.1093/envhis/emr104

Global Affairs Canada. Haiti: Cultural Information. Retrieved from

Rudolph, K., & McLachlan, S. (2013). Seeking Indigenous food sovereignty: origins of and responses to the food crisis in northern Manitoba, Canada. Local Environment, 18(9), 1079-1098. doi: 10.1080/13549839.2012.754741

World Bank. (2018). Poverty Analysis - Haiti: The Challenges of Poverty Reduction. Retrieved from,,contentMDK:20207590~menuPK:435735~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:430367,00.html

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