Vancouver – June 21st marks National Aboriginal Day, a day intended to raise awareness and celebrate the contributions of Indigenous Canadians. However, a recent online survey of 1,607 Canadians shows that after 21 years of National Aboriginal Days, Canadians are largely disengaged from Indigenous peoples and their issues. (Click here for full methodology and details).
Despite media and governmental attention to Indigenous issues such as housing, water supply, suicide and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Inquiry, only 43% reporting having read, seen or heard anything recently concerning Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Most respondents reported relatively low contact with Canada’s Indigenous peoples, with only 21% saying they have often or frequent contact.
Similarly, when asked whether they approve of the job their federal or provincial government are doing managing Canada’s Indigenous people’s issues, 39% selected nether approve or disapprove or “don’t know” towards the federal government, and 51% selected nether approve or disapprove or don’t know for their provincial government.
Since 2008, the government’s approval ratings on Indigenous issues have improved substantially. That said, 41% of Canadians still disapprove of the government’s performance, as compared to 22% who approve.
On the provincial level a similar phenomenon occurs. In every region, substantially more people disapprove of the job their provincial government is doing than approve of how their province is managing Indigenous peoples’ issues.
The survey looked more closely at Canadian attitudes towards the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Again, we find Canadians disengaged with only 19% claiming at least some familiarity with the declaration.
On first impression, Canadians like the idea of fully adopting and implementing the declaration with 56% saying it sounds like a good idea and just 22% saying it sound like a bad idea.
However, when we probe deeper, we find Canadians are conflicted on some of the underlying issues. While 65% of respondents agree “Canadians have a duty to help resolve the massive inequalities that indigenous people face in Canada,” 69% agree “Canada’s Indigenous people should have the same rights as any other Canadian, no more and no less”. More specific statements show similar conflicts and more uncertainty.
As Canadians mark National Aboriginal Day with celebrations of Indigenous contributions and culture, this survey shows how much farther we have to go.
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